The killing of bacteria on metallic copper surfaces in minutes to hours is referred to as contact killing. Why copper possesses such strong antimicrobial activity has remained enigmatic. Based on the physicochemical properties of metals, it was recently predicted that cadmium should also be active in contact killing [Hans et al., Biointerphases 11, 018902 (2010)]. Here, the authors show that cadmium is indeed antimicrobial. It kills three logs of bacteria in 9 h, compared to copper which kills eight logs of bacteria. Metallic silver kills less than one log of bacteria in 9 h. These findings support the novel concept whereby oxide formation, metal ion dissolution, and a Pearson soft character are the key factors for a metal to be antibacterial. Based on these parameters, copper and cadmium are expected to be the two most antibacterial metals.
Killing of bacteria by copper, cadmium, and silver surfaces reveals relevant physicochemical parameters
Jiaqi Luo, Christina Hein, Frank Mücklich, Marc Solioz; Killing of bacteria by copper, cadmium, and silver surfaces reveals relevant physicochemical parameters. Biointerphases 1 June 2017; 12 (2): 020301. https://doi.org/10.1116/1.4980127
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