Antimicrobial materials are substances which destroy or hinder the growth and reproduction of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. The use of metal-based nanoparticles to achieve antimicrobial effects has gained increasing popularity in recent years. Silver is the most common antimicrobial agent in the market today, finding applications in several fields, while copper is rapidly emerging as an alternative to silver. But which antimicrobial material is better and which one should you choose?
Both materials work on the basis of the oligodynamic effect, which involves the release of ions which bond to proteins and hinder the ability of the undesirable cells to function and replicate. While silver operates solely on the oligodynamic effect, copper has another hand up its sleeve. Copper nanoparticles release an electron which actively destroys bacteria, viruses and fungi, making copper a more potent antimicrobial.
Copper is an essential micronutrient for the human body, which can improve skin elasticity and enhance wound healing. As a result, at low concentrations, copper is beneficial for the human body. Silver, on the other hand, is significantly more toxic for human cells when compared with copper at similar amounts and is not required for the functioning of our bodies.
Copper maintains a high degree of effectiveness against a wide range of bacteria, viruses and fungi while silver is primarily effective only against bacteria. In addition, silver provides a high antimicrobial effect at hot and humid temperatures while copper is highly potent at all ranges of temperature and humidity, making it less dependent on environmental factors for its success.
So, if you are looking for a safe and effective antimicrobial material which works against all microorganisms irrespective of whether it is hot or cold, look no further than copper.