Chlorinated Silk Kills Bacillus Spores, ACS Reports

A podcast in the American Chemical Society's Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions series and a journal article describe the simple process for making "killer silk."

What is described as an "inexpensive dip-and-dry treatment" produces chlorinated silk that can kill disease-causing bacteria in minutes, according to a new podcast in the American Chemical Society's Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions series. Rajesh R. Naik, Ph.D., a scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and colleagues also have described their "killer silk" process in an article in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

The podcast explains that Bacillus bacteria become dormant spores during adverse conditions, enclosing themselves in a tough coating that allows them to survive heat, radiation, and antibiotics. Treating some fabrics with chlorine compounds or other oxidizing agents makes them effective against many bacteria, but they are not as effective against spores. Naik and his colleagues wanted to test whether it worked better with silk.

Silk treated for an hour "killed essentially all of the E. coli bacteria tested on it within 10 minutes and did similarly well against spores of a close anthrax relative used as a stand-in," according to ACS.

Its account quotes Naik as saying silk-chlorine materials could be used in water purification for humanitarian relief efforts, in filters, or to mitigate the effects of toxic substances.

Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions is part of an alliance on sustainability between ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry. The podcasts illustrate the importance and utility of cutting-edge research in chemistry.

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