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Antimicrobial Surfaces

Surfaces with excellent resistance to bacterial, viral, and fungal biofilms to inhibit the spread of infections, including COVID-19

Published: 15th May 2020
Antimicrobial Surfaces
Please note, header image is purely illustrative. Source:, unsplash license


The most common way of spreading infection is through contaminated surfaces and is a well-recognised public health issue that has contributed to the spread diseases such as COVID-19 and Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs)

The human cost resulting from the spread of COVID-19 is well known at this time but it should also be remembered that HAIs affect more than 4 million patients annually across Europe and are estimated to be directly responsible for more than 37,000 European deaths annually. It is also recognised that many COVID-19 deaths are the result of complications caused by other infections such as HAIs.

Governments and the healthcare industry globally are implementing strategies and actions to control the spread of infections and reduce the risk of the current and future pandemics. While infection controls such as handwashing, equipment cleaning and personal protective equipment can reduce the risk of infection these approaches alone are insufficient to prevent the spread of disease in communities.

Technology Overview

The Birmingham “NitroPep” surface treatment technology can arrest the spread of infection by providing tailored surface technology to effectively kill the virus/bacteria within minutes (Figure 1). Many surfaces are prone to ‘multiple touches’ in use. The NitroPep technology prevents surface colonisation and biofilm formation to inhibit surface recontamination and onward transmission.

This technical solution is an economically viable and scalable method of permanently binding an approved and readily available antimicrobial active (chlorhexidine) to material surfaces.

Based on information from the World Health Organization (WHO), the use of chlorhexidine as an antimicrobial agent clearly exhibits some efficacy to inactivate SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19. NitroPep has independently assessed laboratory data that shows categorically that their covalently-bonded chlorhexidine-based antimicrobial coating kills gram-negative, gram-positive bacteria and fungi (Figure 2). Initial proof of concept studies have now demonstrated that the technology shows efficacy against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in under 5 minutes, confirming the WHO information and further studies are ongoing.

A wide range of common material surfaces, including metals and plastics, can be treated by the combination of surface modification through NitroPep’s bespoke plasma deposition treatment process and dip-coating with the anti-microbial agent for a truly novel way of rendering the treated material surface antimicrobial.

Stage of Development

The technology is well developed and a wide range of components have been treated in an industrial processing environment. Treated products have been successfully tested in the laboratory and in products installed in the University’s School of Biosciences and in a Birmingham hospital for a period of 3 years. Accelerated testing shows no degradation in performance after 10 years of service.


  • Effective prevention of biofilm formation
  • Elimination/reduction of infection being spread through contact with surfaces.
  • Long lasting
  • Hard wearing
  • Effective against resistant organisms
  • Does not have the toxicity associated with silver nanoparticles


The treatment is suitable for a wide range of products across many industries where hygiene is important, such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Care homes
  • Transport
  • Leisure & hospitality industries
  • Dentistry
  • Veterinary
  • Farming
  • Food and drink manufacturing
  • Kitchens and Catering
  • Cooling and ventilation systems


A spin-out company, NitroPep Limited, has been formed to take the technology to market. Regulatory approval under the Biocidal Products Regulations has been granted.

An opportunity exists for companies to implement the technology in their products or to licence the technology. The spin-out company is looking for collaboration projects with industry partners and investment from venture capital or angel investors.

  • Licensing
  • Development partner
  • Seeking investment