Bactericidal effects of nanopatterns: a systematic review

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We systematically reviewed the currently available evidence on how the design parameters of surface nanopatterns (e.g. height, diameter, and interspacing) relate to their bactericidal behavior. The systematic search of the literature resulted in 46 studies that satisfied the inclusion criteria of examining the bactericidal behavior of nanopatterns with known design parameters in absence of antibacterial agents. Twelve of the included studies also assessed the cytocompatibility of the nanopatterns. Natural and synthetic nanopatterns with a wide range of design parameters were reported in the included studies to exhibit bactericidal behavior. However, most design parameters were in the following ranges: heights of 100–1000 nm, diameters of 10–300 nm, and interspacings of <500 nm. The most commonly used type of nanopatterns were nanopillars, which could kill bacteria in the following range of design parameters: heights of 100–900 nm, diameters of 20–207 nm, and interspacings of 9–380 nm. The vast majority of the cytocompatibility studies (11 out of 12) showed no adverse effects of bactericidal nanopatterns with the only exception being nanopatterns with extremely high aspect ratios. The paper concludes with a discussion on the evidence available in the literature regarding the killing mechanisms of nanopatterns and the effects of other parameters including surface affinity of bacteria, cell size, and extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) on the killing efficiency. Statement of significance: The use of nanopatterns to kill bacteria without the need for antibiotics represents a rapidly growing area of research. However, the optimum design parameters to maximize the bactericidal behavior of such physical features need to be fully identified. The present manuscript provides a systematic review of the bactericidal nanopatterned surfaces. Identifying the effective range of dimensions in terms of height, diameter, and interspacings, as well as covering their impact on mammalian cells, has enabled a comprehensive discussion including the bactericidal mechanisms and the factors controlling the bactericidal efficiency. Overall, this review helps the readers have a better understanding of the state-of-the-art in the design of bactericidal nanopatterns, serving as a design guideline and contributing to the design of future experimental studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-36
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Nanopatterns
  • Antibacterial effects
  • Biomaterial-associated infection
  • Biomimetic


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