, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 1731–1741 | Cite as

Biointeractive antibacterial fibres using polyelectrolyte multilayer modification

  • Josefin Illergård
  • Ute Römling
  • Lars Wågberg
  • Monica EkEmail author
Original Paper


Contact-active antibacterial surfaces are a novel tool in the antibacterial battle. The preparation of such surfaces usually involves harsh reaction conditions and organic solvents. A more sustainable alternative would involve physical adsorption of water-soluble polyelectrolytes using a renewable substrate. Here, highly charged cationic polyvinylamines (PVAm), with or without hydrophobic modifications, have been adsorbed onto the naturally anionic cellulosic wood-fibres. To increase the amount of PVAm, polyelectrolyte multilayers were prepared using polyacrylic acid as the anionic polyelectrolyte. The modified fibres were characterised for PVAm content, water retention and antibacterial properties. The use of multilayers increased the total polymer content without notably reducing the water swelling. The fibres were shown to have excellent bioactive properties and reduced waterborne Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis by more than 99.9 %, which is a generally accepted definition of an antibacterial material. A large reduction in bacterial growth was observed upon addition of nutrients, although minor growth was detected after 24 h. The results further show that one adsorbed polymer layer was sufficient to obtain a contact-active surface, which makes the PVAm multilayer system seemingly unique. No polymer leaching from any of the samples was detected, indicating that the fibres work via a contact-active antibacterial mechanism. The results show the feasibility of constructing a sustainable antibacterial material using a renewable substrate and water-based solutions in the material construction process.


Antibacterial Fibre modification Contact-active Polyelectrolyte adsorption Polyelectrolyte multilayers Cellulose fibres 



BASF SE, SCA Hygiene Products AB and VINNOVA are acknowledged for financing the study. The authors would also like to acknowledge Innventia AB for allowing access to their microbiology lab.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Josefin Illergård
    • 1
  • Ute Römling
    • 2
  • Lars Wågberg
    • 1
  • Monica Ek
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Fibre and Polymer TechnologyKTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell BiologyKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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