Your home most likely features copper wiring, and possibly copper plumbing and roofing components as well. Copper is widely used as a structural material due to its durability, resistance to corrosion, and extremely high thermal and electrical conductivity. But when it comes to glass and ceramics, its role has primarily been decorative. Copper has been used for centuries as a pigment to impart a blue or green tint to various materials. Yet this metal possesses a superpower that materials scientists have been eager to tap: inherent antimicrobial properties. The challenge is how to activate them in a glass or ceramics application. And Corning has come up with a solution.
“People have known about copper’s antimicrobial properties for years. And because of its solubility, we knew we could put lots and lots of it into glass,” says Corning fellow Dr. Tim Gross. “However, no one could figure out a way to get the ions to migrate out of the glass and onto the surface where they put those antimicrobial properties to work.”