Silver uses a surprising trick to stop the spread of bacteria


By Chris Baraniuk

Exposing E.coli cells to silver causes them to move around much more slowlyAF archive / AlamySilver seems to help prevent harmful bacteria from spreading by disrupting how they move around.
The precious metal has long been used to stop the transmission of bacteria – for example, in the filters of some medical face masks and in the antibacterial coatings used on the International Space Station. But until now, one reason it has a sanitising effect had gone unnoticed.
To find out, researchers at the University of Arkansas exposed E. coli to small doses of positively charged silver …
Article amended on
3 March 2020

We clarified that there was some previous understanding of silver’s action.



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