When he studied shark denticles under the electron microscope, he discovered why."I said, "Wow!, That shark pattern, I'd never seen it before,'" he said. And he believes that has something to do with no bacterial growth.Brennan wondered if he could re-create the shark skin surface on plastic sheets."Sharks' denticles are set up like a diamond pattern," he said, showing Pogue a clear plastic sheet he called a Sharklet, which also had a diamond pattern. Its microscopic pattern of ridges mimics the denticles of shark skin. (photo credit)And when you stick it on ships, sure enough - NOTHING GROWS.
Two pieces of plastic - one smooth, one patterned with Sharklet - are subjected to bacteria and incubated for 24 hours.The electron microscope reveals the astounding results. The plain plastic is covered with a bacteria film - "Just these big clumps of bacteria all piled up on one another," Dr. Reddy said.And on the Sharklet surface? "You might see one or two cells, but you don't see that big clumping the way you see it on the smooth surface," said Dr. Reddy. "What's really interesting is that there are no chemical differences between the surfaces. It's the same material. No differences, other than the physical shape."
"Those wristbands, have you ever seen anyone clean those wristbands?" said Dr. Reddy. "Never, right? And they're on the patient the whole time they're in the hospital."