An introduction to antimicrobial surfaces

This white paper offers an introduction to the topic of antimicrobial surfaces and answers general and specific questions from the idea through development to testing the effectiveness and implementation in specific applications.


The history of mankind is accompanied by infectious diseases and pandemics, which repeatedly present modern society with health, social and economic challenges. Therefore, protection against the corresponding dangers has not only been a central topic in the fight against the world of germs since Corona / CoViD-19.

Measures to combat infectious diseases were already used in ancient times and have been continuously developed and optimized ever since. Whether it's silver coins being used in drinking water or copper pipes for water supply: former - mostly superstitiously presumptuous - strategies may appear in a new light thanks to modern findings offering new innovative ways to support the fight against infections. This is also made possible by a better understanding of the transmission routes of infectious germs.

Whereas in the past diseases were seen as divine punishment, today it is well known that they are due to transmission and infection by bacteria, viruses or fungi. Such germs surround us ubiquitously and occur both in nature and in the man-made environment and can be transmitted directly from person to person or indirectly via hands or objects. It is therefore a primary goal of infection research, to understand and to break such chains of infection.

The modern understanding of pathogens as well as the principles of infection and transmission has led, among other things, to the targeted development of new active substances (e.g. polio vaccine) and the optimization of existing hygiene measures. As a result, the first diseases have already been successfully eradicated (smallpox).

Despite this progress, however, pandemics and the discovery of new or previously unknown germs are becoming more frequent. This can be attributed to various factors, such as the high evolutionary strength of viruses, bacteria and fungi on the one hand, but also the increasing modernization and industrialization of society (globalization, demographic change, factory farming, etc.).

The modern healthcare system is facing increasing challenges today as previously effective drugs such as antibiotics, antivirals and antifungals are gradually losing their efficacy. This is mainly due to the increasing resistance of pathogens. At the same time, lack of research activities in the field of drug and antibiotic research hardly provide new effective alternatives.

In view of a rising number of infections that either cannot be treated or are difficult to treat, the further development of additional preventive hygiene concepts is of crucial importance. Yet, for maximum social and economic acceptance, these concepts must complement each other in a meaningful way, efficiently reduce or prevent germ transmission routes and restrict social and economic life as little as possible.

In practice, these different goals often lead to conflicts, for example in the regular and consistent implementation of cleaning and disinfection measures. Though efficient at the time of implementation, these measures do not provide a lasting effect and must be constantly repeated. This is where passive hygiene measures such as antimicrobial surfaces can offer additional, long-term support that contributes to better protection against infectious diseases.

This white paper provides an easy introduction to the topic of antimicrobial surfaces and answers general and specific questions starting with the basic concept, through individual development to the effectiveness testing and the implementa-tion in concrete applications.

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Greater hygiene awareness and an increased demand for innovative and effective protective measures can be observed worldwide. These include, in particular, antimicrobial surfaces, which can effectively and long-term prevent the colonization of germs. A property that is of particular interest against the background of increasing risks of infection.

Although hygiene measures are constantly being further developed and awareness of good hygiene practices is generally becoming more present, rising infection numbers can be observed worldwide (incl. multi-resistant germs). In addition, the evolutionary strength of viruses, bacteria and fungi leads to new pathogens being discovered every year.

At least 700,000 people die each year due to drug resistant diseases and forecasts for 2050 expect ten million deaths per year.