Antibacterial Liquid Metals: Biofilm Treatment via Magnetic Activation

Aaron Elbourne, Samuel Cheeseman, Paul Atkin, Nghia P. Truong, Nitu Syed, Ali Zavabeti, Md Mohiuddin, Dorna Esrafilzadeh, Daniel Cozzolino, Chris F. McConville, Michael D. Dickey, Russell J. Crawford, Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh, James Chapman, Torben Daeneke, Vi Khanh Truong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

192 Citations (Scopus)


Antibiotic resistance has made the treatment of biofilm-related infections challenging. As such, the quest for next-generation antimicrobial technologies must focus on targeted therapies to which pathogenic bacteria cannot develop resistance. Stimuli-responsive therapies represent an alternative technological focus due to their capability of delivering targeted treatment. This study provides a proof-of-concept investigation into the use of magneto-responsive gallium-based liquid metal (LM) droplets as antibacterial materials, which can physically damage, disintegrate, and kill pathogens within a mature biofilm. Once exposed to a low-intensity rotating magnetic field, the LM droplets become physically actuated and transform their shape, developing sharp edges. When placed in contact with a bacterial biofilm, the movement of the particles resulting from the magnetic field, coupled with the presence of nanosharp edges, physically ruptures the bacterial cells and the dense biofilm matrix is broken down. The antibacterial efficacy of the magnetically activated LM particles was assessed against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial biofilms. After 90 min over 99% of both bacterial species became nonviable, and the destruction of the biofilms was observed. These results will impact the design of next-generation, LM-based biofilm treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)802-817
Number of pages16
JournalACS Nano
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2020


  • antibacterial
  • bacteria
  • biofilm
  • Galinstan
  • gallium
  • liquid metal
  • magnetic

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