Nanoporous aerogel as a bacteria repelling hygienic material for healthcare environment.
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Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) caused by pathogenic bacteria are a worldwide problem and responsible for numerous cases of morbidity and mortality. Exogenous cross-contamination is one of the main mechanisms contributing to such infections. This work investigates the potential of hydrophobically modified nanoporous silica aerogel as an antiadhesive hygienic material that can inhibit exogenous bacterial contamination. Nanoporous silica aerogels were synthesized via sol-gel polymerization of tetraethyl orthosilicate and hydrophobized using trimethylsilyl chloride. Bacterial adhesion characteristics were evaluated via dip-inoculation in suspensions of Gram-negative Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus. The attachment of E. coli O157:H7 and S. aureus to hydrophobic nanoporous silica aerogel (HNSA) was found to be significantly lower than that to hydrophilic and hydrophobic nonporous silica materials: 99.91% (E. coli O157:H7) and 99.93% (S. aureus) reduction in comparison to hydrophilic nonporous silica, and 82.95% (E. coli O157:H7) and 84.90% (S. aureus) reduction in comparison to hydrophobic nonporous silica. These results suggest that the use of HNSA as surfaces that come into contact with bacterial pathogens in the healthcare environment can improve bacterial hygiene, and therefore may reduce the rate of HAIs.