Prof. Aharon Gedanken: Saving Lives with…Fabrics

A groundbreaking research project from the labs of Prof. (Emeritus) Aharon Gedanken is being developed for industrial use, and expected to save lives in hospitals worldwide.


Prof. Gedanken of BIU’s Chemistry Department and the Institute for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials has developed an antibacterial fabric, designed to reduce bacterial infections during hospital stays. This fabric is expected to save the lives of tens of thousands of patients all over the world.


Millions of people get sick from bacterial infections contracted during a hospital stay that, in some cases, also cause or contribute to over 100,000 preventable deaths a year. Prof. Gedanken’s solution: coating all fabrics and textiles used in hospitals – such as bed sheets, pillow cases, curtains, gowns, pajamas, and towels – with anti-bacterial nanoparticles to counter this deadly phenomenon.


One of Bar-Ilan’s most respected researchers, Gedanken has been at the University since 1975. During his tenure, Gedanken has been a very busy man: he served as the chemistry department’s chairman from 1982-1985; has published more than 570 scientific papers; and was a visiting scientist at AT&T Bell Laboratories and at the U.S. National Institutes for Health where he focused on spectroscopic research for several years during the 1980s and 1990s. In 2009, he won the Edwards Prize of the Israel Vacuum Society for his research work in nanotechnology.


The issue of preventing these infections has been the focus of Prof. Gedanken’s research for over a decade. He and his team developed a technique in which fabrics can be rendered “bacteria resistant” by coating them with a special solution. Explains Gedanken: “Coating is actually a misleading term. This process forces the coating to penetrate whatever you’re treating. Metal, polymer, ceramics, paper. We’ve tested it on glass, and we can show that it actually penetrates the glass.” Gedanken and his team have proven that these fabrics are effective in preventing infections of a vast variety of bacteria, even antibiotics-resistant ones. He says that his method, embedding nanoparticles into the very fibers of the fabric, ensures that the anti-bacterial properties will last up to 70 cycles in industrial hospital washing machines where the temperature is kept at near boiling 92 degrees Celsius. “For fabrics that are to be used in hospitals, this level of sustainability is outstanding.”


The fabrics were made into hospital gowns, sheets and pillowcases, and were put into experimental use in a Bulgarian hospital. The results were clear and remarkable: a dramatic drop was found in bacterial infections and exposure among all patients using these fabrics.  The European Union declared the experiment an unequivocal success.


Now, the fabrics are being produced for industrial uses by a Mexican company for the American, Canadian and Mexican markets, and an Israel company will be producing and distributing the fabrics in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Which means that very soon, patients checking into hospitals all over the world, have a much better chance of leaving the hospital bacteria-free. And that is no small feat.


For more about Prof. Aharon Gedanken’s bacteria resistant fabrics, watch this clip.

For more on Prof. Gedanken click here