Smart Nanotechnologies S.A. has completed its research and is close to signing 2 contracts!
A team of engineers from Smart Nanotechnologies S.A., a start-up company seated in Alwernia near Krakow, has completed the research process for its innovative technologies which make it possible to apply silver nanoparticles to a wide range of materials. Tests have shown that ceramic products (linings, sinks) and polymer products (thermoplastics, resins, foams) as well as many other everyday use materials manufactured in this manner exhibit over 90 percent effectiveness in bacterial reduction and nearly one hundred percent effectiveness in viral reduction. Protecting surfaces against microbial growth is critical given the coronavirus epidemic and the high likelihood that more such threats will occur worldwide in the future.
Materials with biocidal properties have been known for a long time, but until now they were mainly produced using biocides, i.e. compounds which are dangerous for the environment and exhibit limited durability. “The advantage of our technology lies in the use of silver nanoparticles, which, by bonding with the protected material in a permanent and homogeneous manner, ensure antibacterial and antiviral action regardless of abrasion of that material. The activity of silver does not change over time, guaranteeing a permanent effect, unlike the frequently used conventional organic biocides; moreover, silver nanoparticles are safe for humans and animals,” says Paweł Smoleń, Research and Development Specialist at Smart Nanotechnologies.
Enrichment with silver nanoparticles makes it possible to create new, functional and therefore interesting technologies, and even the most mundane and well-known products can gain a new image and acquire new functions in many business sectors, starting with healthcare, through construction and cleaning agents, and ending as far as manufacture of vehicles for road, air and sea transport. It is worth noting that silver has a biocidal effect at very low concentrations, which is why dosing small amounts does not significantly increase the price of the final product while giving it a new, desirable feature. The most obvious idea seems to be the use of biocidal materials in hospitals and clinics.
One of the greatest problems faced by the medical sector is hospital-acquired infections, which often lead to contamination of the patients’ surroundings and, consequently, of the patients themselves. It is estimated that each year there are thousands of cases of hospital-acquired infections, which continue to be an unresolved problem in modern healthcare, endangering the health and life of patients.
“Applying silver nanoparticles to finishing materials used in hospital rooms would significantly reduce the potential for viral and bacterial emissions. It should be noted that the development and use of self-disinfecting materials should not be limited to elements used in the medical sector, but should apply to all places at risk of microbiological contamination, such as public toilets, stores, schools and residential buildings,” – says Paweł Smoleń from Smart Nanotechologies.
The first potential buyers of the Polish technology
“A Western corporation has already shown interest in the Polish success. We are currently at an advanced stage of negotiations with an Italian company,” says Wiesław Hałucha, President of Smart Nanotechnologies. “Domestically, we are also finalising a contract with one of the largest manufacturers of ceramic products,” – adds President Hałucha.
“The effectiveness of silver against pathogens has been known for millennia. What’s important, however, is that it wasn’t until the 20th century that science identified the specific ways in which it affects microbes. I speak of the oligodynamic effect, the so-called biocidal effect of metals. What makes silver so effective is its non-specific and non-selective nature in affecting most pathogens,” – says Zygmunt Pejsak, Professor at the University Centre for Veterinary Medicine of the Jagiellonian University and the Agricultural University in Krakow.
“Scientists conducting research in this area claim that silver nanoparticles have multiple destructive effects on bacteria, of which at least three have been extensively described and proven. For example, we know that silver nanoparticles destroy the cell membrane and DNA of the pathogen as well as its ribosome in the cell cytoplasm, whose damage prevents the bacteria from multiplying. Of interest is the fact that silver bonds with proteins via the so-called sulphide bridges that are not found in higher organisms, making it a relatively safe substance for humans. Smart Nanotechnologies has been working on modern disinfectants for years and I must admit that it has a lot of experience and success in this field. I have heard many opinions and seen numerous test reports showing the biocidal effect against viruses and bacteria as well as fungi. Some of these works can be safely called pioneering, which makes me particularly happy given the fact that they are being carried out by young Polish scientists. These products are a perfect fit for the market, at least in my field (veterinary medicine),” – says Prof. Pejsak.
The answer to the pandemic
“For almost a year now, the whole world has been living in a new reality. The pandemic is something that modern man has not seen in this scale and scope. In my field, I deal with epidemics, and even pandemics, a lot more frequently. Prominent examples include the African swine fever (ASF) pandemic, the avian influenza pandemic and, going a little further back in time, the foot and mouth disease pandemic. In veterinary medicine we know a lot more about fighting epidemics and pandemics than medical doctors know about fighting human epidemics; this stems from the fact that we deal with large groups of animals, sometimes tens of thousands of pigs or millions of birds in a single herd or flock. It should be emphasized that such phenomena are primarily countered not through treatment, but through large-scale and well-organised immunoprophylaxis and biosecurity, the latter of which has been gaining importance in recent years, including professionally conducted and effective disinfection. For years I have been a proponent of biosecurity as the basis for the protection of herds and flocks against infectious diseases. Sometimes, due to great difficulty in developing effective and, importantly, epidemiologically safe vaccines, biosecurity remains the only tool in disease control. One example of this is the ASF pandemic which I mentioned earlier. Products developed by Smart Nanotechnologies open the door to effective protection,” – adds Professor Pejsak.
Nanotechnology is like 5G
As early as 2006, a report prepared by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education titled “Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. National Strategy for Poland” noted that “nanotechnology offers great opportunities with respect to rapid transformation of basic research results into successful innovations and will be a leading technology in the coming decades”. “In 2008, the development of nanotechnology in the chemical industry was one of the topics discussed during preparation of the prospectus for Zakłady Azotowe in Tarnów. Today, the fact that polypropylene can be modified using nanotechnology is the foundation for the “Polimery Police” project. In agriculture, new plant growth regulators and new fertiliser materials for plant protection are being introduced thanks to nanotechnology. Silver nanoparticles are particularly popular due to their strong antiseptic properties which make them highly effective against bacteria, fungi, yeasts and viruses,” states Dr Robert Gwiazdowski from the Adam Smith Centre.
“Unfortunately, for state-owned concerns, efficiency is not the main criterion in deciding whether to cooperate with various partners, though occasionally figures do prevail. There is therefore a chance that small private Polish companies which develop nanotechnologies will eventually partner with these large state-owned enterprises. For example, at Orlen petrol stations, one can already buy windshield washer fluid with nanoparticles. There is no escape from nanotechnology, much like from 5G,” – concludes Dr Gwiazdowski.
Silver nanoparticles are obtained using chemical or physical methods. The less common physical methods involve the use of microwave radiation and ultrasound, while chemical methods are based on reduction of silver ions via electrochemical or photochemical processes. Obtaining silver nanoparticles using chemical methods is based on reduction of silver ions by means of a reducing agent in the presence of a stabiliser which prevents the nanoparticles from forming larger structures – agglomerates. During the reaction, it is possible to control the size, shape and stability of the generated nanoparticles by adjusting the parameters of synthesis, such as pH, stirring rate and precursor salt concentration, or by selecting the appropriate type and concentration of stabiliser.
“Combining nanoparticles with standard products is not simple, but a skilfully done application ensures antibacterial action regardless of material abrasion. Importantly, the process typically does not require additional investment in specialised instruments and is done using the available, standard manufacturing equipment,” – describes Paweł Smoleń from Smart Nanotechnologies.
Last Updated on March 8, 2021 by Karolina Ampulska