An accident at Canterbury University could be responsible for a breakthrough in self-cleaning surfaces.
Research into a form of metal coating was thought to have gone wrong before engineers realised it had surprising properties.
Nanostructured anotase-rutile-carbon composite coating or NSARC for short, is black on the outside and unique on the inside and can kill bacteria and viruses.
“It absorbs indoor light and burns off organic material including microbes and bacteria,” Canterbury University Professor of Mechanical Engineering Susan Krumdieck told 1 NEWS.
“They (bacteria) find that a really nasty place to be,” she said.
It’s not such a big a deal around the home but in places like hospitals it can be life or death.
Hospital-acquired infections affect around 1 in 10 patients in New Zealand and cost the health sector tens of millions
The coating of NSARC indoors would be one more barrier, to reduce the transmission of hospital acquired infections
This innovation almost wasn't, as titanium oxide is usually white or transparent.
“It wasn't what the PHD student was looking for so he set it aside, he thought he'd done something strange like burned it somehow,” Professor Krumdieck said.
It was a mistake that eventually paid off.
“The black sample sat aside for a long time until another student was doing the testing picked it up and tried to do the test but before they could even get it into the UV light it had destroyed the organic material,” Professor Krumdieck said.
Self-sterilising is just one use for this new material, finding others takes money and research
“The science always takes a long time,” Professor Krumdieck said.
For now, though this could be the new look of clean, in any colour, as long as its black.