Scientists Accidentally Discover Incredible Bacteria-Killing Surface

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you never had to worry about germs crawling around on your kitchen countertop? Well, thanks to a new discovery by Australian scientists, that could soon be a reality. And it doesn't require a drop of disinfectant.

It's called black silicon. While the material itself was discovered back in the 1990s by some Harvard guys, scientists only recently stumbled across its antibacterial properties after studying the wings of cicadas and dragonflies. They discovered that nanostructures shaped like little pillars on the wings effectively shreds and kills any bacteria that tried to settle there. With spikes that are just 500 nanometers high, black silicon (pictured above) has the same property. Bacteria literally can't land on the surface without being destroyed by the spikes.

Now for the potential downside. While useful for camera sensors and solar cells, black silicon hasn't really been commercialized, so we don't know how expensive it would be to produce it on a large enough scale to replace kitchen countertops across the nation. The scientists who discovered black silicon's antibacterial properties are optimistic that they can produce synthetic nano-materials that will have the same effect. Now if they could only figure out an easy solution to our antibiotic problem. [AFP]

Image via Wikipedia