Developing Thin-film Nanostructured Surfaces For Antimicrobial Applications


Spartan Nano was formed in 2008 to commercialise fundamental research in the biophysical sciences, aimed at chemical functionalisation and antimicrobials. The company was specifically looking for a competitive advantage through multi-disciplinary expertise, and an understanding of nano-fabrication.



Durham University has world-class expertise in Nanoscale Science & Technology (NST) research, and Dr Del Atkinson was well placed to work with Spartan Nano to explore the functional potential of nanostructured surfaces for biochemical applications. So, in 2010, METRC awarded Spartan Nano and Durham University a Short Term Project Fund to develop thin-film nanostructured surfaces for antimicrobial applications.


The METRC-funded project demonstrated that nanostructuring had a significant antimicrobial effect against e. coli and s. aureus, with Log 5 kill rates observed against both surface-bound bacteria. In addition, it was discovered that bacterial killing is not dependent on the release of antimicrobial agents from the films.


Following on from their successful collaboration, Spartan Nano and Durham University are considering the best routes for IP protection and publication, and are looking for further research funding and commercial investment for product development.


“The METRC funding allowed us to collaborate with Durham University in a complex multidisciplinary area, where joint expertise was a necessity. The outcomes extended beyond the development of novel technology as it increased our understanding of the underlying biological and nanoscale interactions.”

Dr Andrew Dean, Spartan Nano Ltd

“The METRC funding has enabled Durham University to engage with Spartan Nano to actively pursue research on a novel approach to enhancing surface-based antimicrobial activity that grew out of our recognition of the opportunity to cross a disciplinary divide.”

Dr Del Atkinson, Durham University