Significant Enhancement of Antimicrobial Activity in Oxygen-Deficient Zinc Oxide Nanowires

Aaron Elbourne, Samuel Cheeseman, Pierce Wainer, Jaewon Kim, Alexander E. Medvedev, Kylie J. Boyce, Christopher F. McConville, Joel Van Embden, Russell J. Crawford, James Chapman, Vi Khanh Truong, Enrico Della Gaspera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The fabrication of antimicrobial surfaces that exhibit enhanced activity toward a large variety of microbial species is one of the major challenges of our time. In fact, the negative effects associated with both bacterial and fungal infections are enormous, especially considering that many microbial species are developing resistance to known antibiotics. In this work, we show how a combination of a specific surface morphology and surface chemistry can create a surface that exhibits nearly 100% antimicrobial activity toward both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria and fungal cells. Arrays of vertically aligned, oxygen-deficient zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires grown on a substrate exhibit enhanced antimicrobial activity compared with surfaces containing either less defective nanowires or highly oxygen-deficient flat films. This synergistic effect between physical activity (morphology) and chemical activity (surface composition) has been shown to be responsible for the outstanding antimicrobial activity of our surfaces, especially toward notoriously resilient bacterial or fungal species. These findings provide a series of design rules for tuning the activities of antibacterial and antifungal nanomaterials. These rules constitute an excellent platform for the development of next-generation antimicrobial surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2997-3004
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Bio Materials
Issue number5
Early online date4 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • antibacterial
  • chemical bath deposition
  • nanostructures
  • oxygen vacancies
  • ZnO


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