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SCHURTER: Antimicrobial Switches Disinfect Themselves

May 17, 2022

Switches that disinfect themselves. Sound too good to be true? No. It is possible. Antimicrobial coatings inhibit the growth of microorganisms and even kill them. Perfectly suited for medical technology, sanitation areas, and the food service industry.

Antimicrobial? What does this mean? Antiviral and antibacterial are familiar to most of us. They fight viruses and bacteria, respectively. Consequently, antimicrobial stands for microbes. Microbes or microorganisms include bacteria, many fungi and spores, microscopic algae and protozoa. Viruses are also usually included, although these are not living organisms in the true sense of the word (they have no metabolism of their own).

Antimicrobial substances
Antimicrobial substances are substances that inhibit the growth of microorganisms or even kill them. This approach is not new, and consequently various solutions coexist on the market. All disinfectants, for example, are classified as antimicrobial substances. However, there are also high-tech surface structures that have an antimicrobial effect through the disinfecting action of silver and copper or by means of nanostructures made of titanium dioxide.

Photodynamic self purification

The principle of photodynamics is based on the excitation of a photocatalyst by means of light waves from the visible spectral range (400 – 700 nm). The transfer of energy to the ambient oxygen produces what is known as singlet oxygen (1O2). This particularly reactive oxygen species effectively kills microorganisms by oxidation.

Fight the smear infections

A large number of infectious diseases is transmitted via contaminated surfaces. This is called smear infection. Antimicrobial coatings, varnishes and paints can be applied to countless surfaces. They are therefore ideal for facilities where high and the highest standards of hygiene arerequired: Hospitals, the food industry, schools and kindergartens, or even retirement homes. Depending on the particular pathogen, microorganisms can remain active for up to 16 months: on the door handle, in public transport, on the computer keyboard or at the automatic pay station.

Tested on switches
In cooperation with a traditional German company that manufactures paints and varnishes for highly specialized applications, SCHURTER put the product to the test. The effect of a coating on switches that works according to this photodynamic principle was tested. The results were very convincing. Only switches with a circumferential groove – i.e. switches with a mechanical stroke – are somewhat more difficult to coat, since the coating could flow into the interior of the switch. For these, the coating would have to be limited to the actuator and would have to be applied before final assembly. All completely sealed SCHURTER switches (piezoelectric, capacitive or ToF) are perfectly suited for this upgrade.

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