Ships, Sharks and Staphylococcus

Materials Science and Engineering professor Anthony B. Brennan’s believes in the importance of looking outside your field for ideas, and his varied interests often lead him into cross-disciplinary research. Case in point: Working on a project for the Office of Naval Research to reduce buildup of algae and marine organisms on ships’ hulls, Brennan looked to marine animals for inspiration and realized the nurse shark doesn’t collect algae.

The input of colleagues from different scientific areas, including the help of the University of Florida’s shark research program, drove Brennan and his team to a series of breakthroughs.

  • Examining a shark skin sample inspired the creation of an artificial film called Sharklet
  • Testing revealed that although the Sharklet surface doesn’t actually kill bacteria, it is unsuitable for the reproduction of bacteria – notably Staphylococcus
  • The Sharklet surface design is being tried first for a catheter and could soon be developed for disease-spreading surfaces like keypads and bathroom doors

Discover why the Sharklet was a success and whether it is actually destined to be used for Navy ships.

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