Researchers design “smart” surfaces, creating promise for safer implants and more accurate diagnostic tests

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Researchers at McMaster University have solved a vexing problem by engineering surface coatings that can repel everything, such as bacteria, viruses and living cells, but can be modified to permit beneficial exceptions.

The discovery holds significant promise for medical and other applications, making it possible for implants such as vascular grafts, replacement heart valves and artificial joints to bond to the body without risk of infection or blood clotting.

The new nanotechnology has the potential to greatly reduce false positives and negatives in medical tests by eliminating interference from non-target elements in blood and urine.

The research adds significant utility to completely repellent surfaces that have existed since 2011. Those surface coatings are useful for waterproofing phones and windshields, and repelling bacteria from food-preparation areas, for example, but have offered limited utility in medical applications where specific beneficial binding is required.

www.eng.mcmaster.ca