MAR 18, 2016 9:48 AM PDT

Is it hot in here?

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Evans
University of Houston researchers developed a new, photothermal technique to kill bacteria.

The technique uses gold disks and light to hit bacteria with an “instantaneous thermal shock”. The gold disks are tiny - only a few hundred nanometers in diameter - and can be formed into numerous shapes. The gold nanodisks absorb light and convert it into heat (we’re talking over 200oC!).
 
Light and gold nanodisks kill bacteria with heat.

The group tested the technique on three types of bacteria: E. coli, Bacillus subtilis, and the heat-resistant Exiguobacterium (species of this genus have been found in hot springs at Yellowstone National Park). They placed bacterial cells on the gold surface and applied infrared light.

According to study author Wei-Chuan Shih,”we showed that all of the bacteria were killed pretty quickly ... within 5 to 25 seconds. That's a very fast process". Of the species tested, E. coli proved to be the most vulnerable, having been killed within just 5 seconds. This is a huge improvement over other nanoparticle-based technologies that typically require 1-20 minutes to kill cells.

It’s clear that these gold nanodisks have many biomedical applications - catheters and other medical devices, for example. “Any sort of light activated procedure would be much easier to implement at the bedside of a patient”, says Shih.

Sources: Optical Materials Express, The Optical Society, Wikipedia
 
About the Author
  • Kerry received a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
You May Also Like
AUG 27, 2020
Microbiology
Underground Microbes Use an Ancient Form of Energy Production
AUG 27, 2020
Underground Microbes Use an Ancient Form of Energy Production
Organisms rely on a biological fuel known as ATP, which provides the energy for many processes. In cellular respiration, ...
SEP 01, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Smell Cells Are Especially Good at Fighting the Flu
SEP 01, 2020
Smell Cells Are Especially Good at Fighting the Flu
All over the body, cells line organs and vessels, forming protective barriers. But pathogens like the flu have gained th ...
SEP 28, 2020
Microbiology
The Flu Vaccine Will Not Increase the Risk of COVID-19
SEP 28, 2020
The Flu Vaccine Will Not Increase the Risk of COVID-19
Scientists and clinicians want people to get their flu shots this year, especially because of the ongoing pandemic.
SEP 30, 2020
Microbiology
Bringing Attention to a Neglected Disease
SEP 30, 2020
Bringing Attention to a Neglected Disease
Schistosomiasis doesn't get much research attention, but it affects around 240 million people around the world, killing ...
OCT 05, 2020
Plants & Animals
Bacteria Caused the Deaths of Hundreds of Elephants
OCT 05, 2020
Bacteria Caused the Deaths of Hundreds of Elephants
African elephants are a threatened species that are increasing in some areas but at risk in many others. There are proba ...
OCT 13, 2020
Microbiology
Bacterial Biofilms Can Take on Some Animal-Like Characteristics
OCT 13, 2020
Bacterial Biofilms Can Take on Some Animal-Like Characteristics
Bacteria are everywhere, even inside of our bodies, and they are thought to date back to the early days of life on Earth ...
Loading Comments...