A research team at Chalmers University has shown that a layer of vertical graphene flakes forms a protective surface that makes it impossible for bacteria to attach. Instead, bacteria are sliced apart by the sharp graphene flakes and killed. Coating implants with a layer of graphene flakes can therefore help protect patients against infection, eliminate the need for antibiotic treatment, and reduce the risk of implant rejection. The osseointegration - the process by which the bone structure grow to attach the implant - is not disturbed. In fact, the graphene has been shown to benefit the bone cells.
Chalmers University researchers stated that the biological applications of graphene began to materialize a few years ago. The researchers saw conflicting results in earlier studies, in which some showed that graphene damaged the bacteria, others that they were not affected. "We discovered that the key parameter is to orient the graphene vertically. If it is horizontal, the bacteria are not harmed" says Ivan Mijakovic, Professor at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering.