Posted by: Rob Lester | August 2, 2010

Sharks in the hospital room

“If you’re a large, ocean-dwelling critter, you need to move fast, otherwise organisms such as algae, tube worms and barnacles will latch on and foul your skin. Tuna, orcas and dolphins move fast and their skins are squeaky clean. But whales and turtles move slowly and unwanted freeloaders glom on. Sharks violate this general rule of the ocean. They move slowly, but nothing attaches to their skin. Some researchers realized that the reason has to do with the microscopic structure of a shark’s skin and the way the scales fit together. It’s just too hard to hang on, even when the shark is moving slowly.” One company has found a way to fabricate a surface coating that mimics shark skin. The surface resists the growth of organisms such as bacteria, and as a result is being tested in hospitals on surfaces such as bed rails, control panels, call buttons and more to reduce disease.  Bacteria will not have time to attach and grow into a colony before they die. This is vitally important because so many people die from hospital-acquired infection.  This will be a passive method, as opposed to the active method of sprays and chemicals.  And it is much more effective. Here we are once again taking cues from the Grand Designer.        

Staedter, Tracy “Technologies Inspired by Sharks.” 2/26/09


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