There was an E. coli scare in Germany recently where all sorts of things got blamed for causing people to be ill, and some people even died. And in the last 24 hours eight children in France were hospitalised after eating hamburger patties found to have E.coli on them though this is a different and unrelated strain to the German outbreak. A quick search on Google will bring up several news articles on E.coli causing people to fall ill.
There does need to be a way to detect E.coli quickly. Professor Rigoberto “Gobet” Advincula, a polymer chemist at the University of Houston is developing materials to do just that and also to repel the bacteria. One particular material is a graphene material that is showing signs of having antimicrobial qualities developed in collaboration with Debora Rodrigues from the University of Houston’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. It could be turned into a smart material to not just detect E.coli but to use the conducting nature of the material to switch bacterial adhesion on and off.
This could be one of the ways that E. coli outbreaks can be minimised and perhaps even prevented.
An introduction to the research paper can be found here but to read it in full you do need to pay a fee. Sorry about that.