2009: The Year in Innovation

safetouch, sharklet, microbes, sharkskin, shark
Photo by Nigel Cox
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A New Way to Fight Germs

When searching for a way to keep barnacles from sticking to ship hulls, Tony Brennan, co-founder of Sharklet Technologies, looked to sharkskin, which is known for its ability to resist microbes. Peering through a microscope at an impression of the skin, Brennan confirmed his hunch that a diamond-shaped pattern of tiny tooth-like projections was keeping it clean. Now, the Alachua, Florida-based company makes sheets of plastic called SafeTouch, which are imprinted with a raised sharkskin-like pattern and can be adhered to germ-prone surfaces to prevent bacteria from settling in for up to 30 days.