Antimicrobial Geopolymer Compositions


Antimicrobial agents are vital to efforts to kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Due to increasing antibiotic resistance, there has recently been a renewed interest in using silver as an antimicrobial agent. Out of all the metals with antimicrobial properties, silver yields the most effective action with the least toxicity. Furthermore, silver has found a growing presence in many applications due to a desire to shift away from organic chemical antimicrobial agents toward additives. These additives can be used in much lower concentrations in a wider variety of products, including applications such as plastics and rubbers where high-temperature processing is not feasible for organic compounds. To meet the diversity of application types, many different forms of silver compounds have been developed to service this market. Recently, silver zeolites and resins containing and releasing silver ions have become a popular solution to combat the growing pressures of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, more advancements need to be made to increase the effectiveness and utility of this method.

Researchers at Arizona State University have created unique geopolymer compositions that exhibit antibacterial properties. This innovation uses silver, copper or zinc ion-exchanged zeolites or aluminosilicates to increase efficacy in antimicrobial applications. The zeolite acts as a delivery system that allows a controlled slow release of the silver ions on demand, thus killing and inhibiting the growth of bacteria, viruses, mold and fungus over long periods of time. This stable ion exchange process is non-reactive and allows the compound to be used in various manufacturing processes. Unlike conventional zeolites, the particle size of this invention is small and in the range ideal for the additive application. Furthermore, the silver ion exchanged zeolite from this invention can kill antibiotics-resistant bacteria at a high rate, even when the material loading is low.

Potential Applications

  • Antimicrobial applications
  • Medical products
  • Sterile environments
  • Plastics
  • Rubber

Benefits and Advantages

  • Higher Antibacterial Efficacy - The nano-sized particles are ideal for improved ion release and increased antibacterial effectiveness.
  • Lower Loading - The silver ion exchanged zeolite from this invention can kill antibiotics-resistant bacteria much faster that current additives, even when the material loading is significantly lower.
  • Versatile - The submicron aggregates are more suitable than nanoparticles in handling and composite preparation, which allows it to be integrated into a variety of materials.
  • Lower Cost – Increased loading efficiency, ion release rates, and antibacterial efficacy provide a more effective and less expensive method when compared to alternative technologies.

For more information about the inventor(s) and their research, please see

Dr. Dong-Kyun Seo's directory webpage

Dr. Shelley Haydel's directory webpage

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