Antibacterial activity testing of cotton medical textiles sonochemically impregnated with metal oxide nanoparticles

  • Gagandeep Singh

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The Sonochemistry Centre at Coventry University is one of a group of organisations working on a project to develop a new technology for producing antimicrobial textiles. This technology involves the use of an ultrasonic process (sonochemical) to generate and impregnate fabrics with antibacterial metal oxide nanoparticles. The expectation is that these textiles can be produced at an affordable price for routine use in hospitals as uniforms, curtains, hospital bed sheets and linen. 
    The aim of this PhD project was to assess the antibacterial activity of fabrics impregnated with ZnO and CuO NPs against a variety of Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. The testing was principally carried out according to the absorption method from ISO 20743:2007. Research was also extended to compare different methods of assessing antibacterial activity of textile fabrics. These included disc diffusion tests and shake flask tests in saline or nutrient broth. 
    Overall the results from absorption tests demonstrated that both the ZnO and CuO impregnated fabrics showed very good levels of antibacterial activity (A>2) against the test bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter baumannii, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa). 
    During the optimisation of lab scale process to the pilot scale, two different types of CuO fabrics were produced to test and compare the antibacterial activity. One type of fabrics were impregnated with pre-made CuO nanoparticles by a ‘throwing the stones’ technology termed TTS and the other with sonochemically formed nanoparticles (in-situ), same as the lab process. The results indicated that the fabrics impregnated with sonochemically formed NPs displayed better antibacterial activity than the pre-made NPs. 
    Leaching of the antibacterial agents in to saline was investigated using a shake flask method. CuO and ZnO coated fabrics prepared at laboratory scale were tested against Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter baumannii and Escherichia coli. It was found that leachates prepared by shaking the fabrics in saline for 3 hours showed no antibacterial activity for CuO fabrics. However, leachates from ZnO fabrics showed an excellent activity after 24 ± 3 hours against all three bacterial species. 
    Flow cytometry (FC) was investigated as an alternative to standard agar plate count (PC) methods for the determination of viable cell numbers. There was a general agreement between the results from agar plate counts and flow cytometry except that post incubation counts were greater with FC. The higher numbers of viable cells detected with FC may have been due to the presence of viable but not culturable cells (VBNC). Viable cells were observed by fluorescence microscopy in post incubation samples in which no viable cells were detected on nutrient agar plates. 
    Cytotoxicity studies were conducted on ZnO and CuO fabrics from the pilot scale (both in-situ and TTS) against human dermal fibroblast cells (HDF) and human hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HepG2) using a MTT assay to determine cell viability. The results showed that ZnO and CuO are not toxic to HDF cells. However, cytotoxicity was seen in HepG2 cells with cell viability decreasing by > 14% for all the fabrics after 24 hours.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SponsorsEuropean Union FP7
    SupervisorEadaoin Joyce (Supervisor) & Jamie Beddow (Supervisor)


    • Antibacterial agents
    • Anti-infective agents
    • Sonochemistry
    • Textile fabrics
    • Cotton

    Cite this