Enterprise Development

Photodynamic Antimicrobial Paints & Varnishes

Sean Gorman, David Jones, Colin McCoy, Steven Bell

Patent Status
A priority patent application (GB0602125.7) was filed on 5TH February 2006 and the application entered PCT in February 2007 with International Publication Number WO2007088392. The patent has proceeded to nation phase in AU, CA, CN, EP, IN, JP and US.

Opportunity Status
Queens would like to talk to partners interested in collaborative development and commercialising this novel and exciting technology.

To discuss this further please contact:

Dr Paschal McCloskey

Request Further Information: Project Number P44371 Photodynamic antimicrobial paints & varnishes

Project part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.

  European Community Logo  Invest NI Logo

Project Number
P44371 , POC28A

Researchers at the QUB have developed methods to incorporate sensitiser compounds into paints, varnishes and lacquers which render surfaces antimicrobial, under normal ambient lighting conditions.



  • Provides a constant, persistent, enduring antimicrobial activity with no toxicity to personnel
  • Does not require moisture on the surface to act as a release mechanism for incorporated antibacterial agents as in other technologies
  • Does not induce bacterial resistance
  • Spectrum of activity is very broad, including activity against MRSA, and other problem organisms


In the hospital sector, hospital acquired infections (HAI) are a major concern, with HAI deaths running into several thousands a year in the UK alone. Evidence is emerging that organisms such as MRSA can survive on the fabric of a building. This is a significant discovery as ceilings and walls in medical environments tend to be cleaned less frequently than floors. A wide variety of businesses such as direct food handling, pharmaceutical manufacture, hospitals, leisure centres and the animal handling industry require a high level of cleanliness to ensure that micro-organisms do not multiply and contaminate products or effect human health. Surfaces must not only be easy to clean, and where necessary, to disinfect, but also prevent the build-up of dirt, shedding of particles and condensation.


Researchers at QUB have invented a unique and innovative surface coating technology that uses photosensitising molecules, of the same class used in photodynamic therapy for the treatment of various cancers. When exposed to visible light, these molecules generate reactive oxygen species, predominantly singlet oxygen, which is indiscriminately cytotoxic. The paint is aimed at killing all bacteria, viruses and fungi which may come in contact with a treated hospital surface – for example, the surface of a wall, floor, door push plate or hospital bed handle. The process is catalytic, so the sensitiser can give a prolonged protection, unlike conventional chemical-incorporation strategies. The paints deliver an effective means to both prevent and control hospital-associated infection which is simple to apply, enduring, and cost-effective. Importantly, the technology removes the element of ‘human error or inefficiency’ from cleaning and disinfection.

Market Opportunity

In the US, the total revenue from the antimicrobial paints and coatings market (specifically for lowering infection or contamination) was $175.4 million in 2005 and is estimated to grow to $488.9 million in 2012, demonstrating a high growth opportunity. In the US paints and coatings market, the two market segments showing the largest increase in sales are the medical devices and the antimicrobial agent coatings markets which is the core target market for the QUB Photodynamic antimicrobial paints & varnishes technology