Antimicrobial Activity of Cationic Antiseptics in Layer-by-Layer Thin Film Assemblies
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Layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly has proven to be a powerful technique for assembling thin films with a variety of properties including electrochromic, molecular sensing, oxygen barrier, and antimicrobial. LbL involves the deposition of alternating cationic and anionic ingredients from solution, utilizing the electrostatic charges to develop multilayer films. The present work incorporates cationic antimicrobial agents into the positively-charged layers of LbL assemblies. When these thin films are exposed to a humid environment, the antimicrobial molecules readily diffuse out and prevent bacterial growth. The influence of exposure time, testing temperature, secondary ingredients and number of bilayers on antimicrobial efficacy is evaluated here. Additionally, film growth and microstructure are analyzed to better understand the behavior of these films. The antimicrobial used here is a positively-charged quaternary ammonium molecule (e.g. cetyltrimethylammonium bromide [CTAB]) that allow assemblies to be made with or without an additional polycation like polydiallyldimethylamine. While films without this additional polymer are effective, they do not have the longevity or uniformity of films prepared with its addition. All of the recipes studied show linear growth as a function of the number of bilayers deposited and this growth is relatively thick (i.e. > 100 nm per bilayer). In general, 10-bilayer films prepared with CTAB and poly(acrylic acid) are able to achieve a 2.3 mm zone of inhibition against S. aureus bacteria and 1.3 mm against E. coli when test are conducted at body temperature (i.e. 37oC). Fewer bilayers reduces efficacy, but lower test temperatures improve zones of inhibition. As long as they are stored in a dry atmosphere, antimicrobial efficacy was found to persist even when films were used four weeks after being prepared. The best films remain effective (i.e. antimicrobially active) for 4-6 days of constant exposure to bacteria-swabbed plates. This technology holds promise for use in transparent wound bandages and temporary surface sterilization.
Dvoracek, Charlene M. (2009). Antimicrobial Activity of Cationic Antiseptics in Layer-by-Layer Thin Film Assemblies. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from