Intrinsically Antibacterial Metals

Title of the research project

MAGIC - Development of antibacterial MetAllic Glass mICrofibers 

Scientific area

Bioinformatics, Biomaterials, Metallic Glass

Marie Curie fellow

Elham Sharifikolouei


MAGIC project aims at understanding the antibacterial mechanism in metallic glasses for industrial applications through an interdisciplinary approach based on Materials Engineering and Next Generation Gene Sequencing. The best results will be fabricated in the form of microfibers.

Description of the research project 

The major cause of the retrieval of metallic implants is infection due to bacterial biofilm formation. To date, surface coating is the most popular approach for generation of antibacterial surfaces. However, coatings have numerous drawbacks including their lack of durability, and loss of function over time. Recently, some metallic glasses based on Zirconium, Copper and Silver (Zr-Cu-Ag MG) have been reported to show intrinsic antibacterial properties. Metallic glasses have additional advantages such as their superior mechanical properties and corrosion resistance. Despite all these, the lack of understanding on the mechanism of their antibacterial properties has slowed down their integration in the medical industry. The fundamental purpose of this project is to discover the underlying antibacterial mechanism in Zr-Cu-Ag MG through an interdisciplinary approach. On the engineering side, “chemical composition” and “surface energy”, the main antibacterial contributors  of Zr-Cu-Ag MG will be modified and controlled. On the advanced biological analysis side, bacterial genetic and metabolic response to these changes will be studied by coupling basic metabolic assays with innovative sequencing techniques. Furthermore, we aim to fabricate the best MG in the form of microfibers for the very first time. Microfibers are easier to be formed into different shapes and have higher surface areas. This would bring added value to their industrial applications. This project will be in collaboration with ESI Leoben.

Impact on fellow career and on society 

Understanding antibacterial mechanism in MG is the first step for their purposeful engineering in the medical industry. Besides, their intrinsic antibacterial properties will help us tackle the worldwide challenge of antibiotic resistance bacterial infections, such as MRSA ( Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

The fellow will acquire new sets of skills through the collaboration with the research group of Politecnico di Torino and of the partner organization. The close collaboration with l’Università del Piemonte Orientale will broaden the fellow prospects in the field of microbiology and bioinformatics. The fellow will gain independence  contributing to the development of   a new interdisciplinary research field.

Short CV of Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow

Elham Sharifikolouei completed her M.Sc in biomaterials at Ulm University in Germany. She conducted her master thesis on the development of “synthetic model cells” at Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany. She further received the Max Planck Society PhD fellowship to develop a new technique for the fabrication of metallic microfibers. In 2018, She has completed her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Joachim Spatz at Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany. The same year, she joined Prof. Ferraris’ group at Politecnico di Torino for her postdoc. 


Monica Ferraris, DISAT - Department of Applied Science and Technology

Project Partner Organization

Erich Schmid Institute of Materials Science (ESI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Leoben, Austria.  

MAGIC project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 892050

  • Budget: 171,470 Euro
  • Start date: 1/10/2020
  • End date: 30/09/2022