Why Copper?

5 Reasons Corning Chose Copper

5 Reasons Corning Chose Copper

On our journey to develop products that enhance people's lives, Corning has investigated various materials with antimicrobial properties. Copper stood out as an exceptional option, prompting our researchers and scientists to specifically engineer Guardiant technology around this key ingredient.

1. Copper has a favorable toxicological profile

Many biocides that are used as preservatives or as active ingredients in cleaning products are man-made. Sometimes these chemical cocktails have unfavorable toxicological profiles that can cause allergic reactions or other adverse effects.

Copper is a natural element that surrounds us regularly and is even an essential nutrient in our bodies. It has a favorable toxicological profile compared to alternative antimicrobial biocides.

2. Copper has been used by humans for centuries

Because copper is a naturally occurring material, it's been utilized for centuries and has been employed for its antimicrobial properties throughout human history.

The ancient Egyptians used copper to craft water vessels, razors, and tools and instruments for medical operations and procedures. Copper-plated hulls of ships were found to reduce algae and microbial growth, better preserving ships and other marine structures. Copper pipes became popular for the treatment and transportation of drinking water.

Copper continues to be recognized for its antimicrobial capabilities. Copper and copper alloys were registered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2008 as an antimicrobial agent and certain copper containing coatings were recently included in the EPA's List N Appendix of supplemental residual antimicrobial products that can be used against the virus that causes COVID-19.

3. Copper is highly effective against viruses and bacteria

Copper has been shown to kill >99.9% of a broad spectrum of viruses and bacteria, including non-enveloped viruses that are considered the hardest to kill. More importantly, paints containing Guardiant technology are able to do this in dry surface conditions where many biocides struggle.

The most potent form of copper is Cu+1.  Guardiant stores copper as Cu+1, allowing for a more efficient utilization of copper. Guardiant enables paint products that achieve the same level of kill as normal copper while using about 1% of copper in the final product.

4. Copper is always working, providing residual activity against microorganisms

Traditional cleaners achieve episodic efficacy, which means the active ingredient quickly kills the bacteria and viruses that were already on the surface, but then stops working, allowing the surface to be re-contaminated.

Copper is shown to have residual efficacy, which is why paints using Guardiant technology have been shown to keep killing bacteria and viruses continuously for an extended period of time. This provides a sense of security that the copper surface is still reducing microbes without intervention in between standard cleaning and disinfecting practices.

5. Research suggests copper's likelihood of contributing to antimicrobial resistance is very low

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing and serious concern. We want protection from viruses and bacteria, but we also do not want to contribute to their process of mutating and becoming less susceptible to disinfectants and medical treatments.

Despite centuries worth of antimicrobial copper being in use, scientific research has not found bacteria that exhibit true resistance to copper.

Additionally, the experiments that have been conducted to assess antimicrobial resistance to copper indicate that most pathogens die on dry copper surfaces under ambient conditions before they can mutate, replicate, and pass on genetic material. This is because copper kills germs by multiple mechanisms, rapidly obliterating them by destroying cell coverings and genetic material. Scientists have observed temporary tolerance in some pathogens but believe that the probability of pathogens developing true resistance to the antimicrobial effects of copper is low.

Grass G, Rensing C, Solioz M. Metallic copper as an antimicrobial surface. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Mar;77(5):1541-7. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02766-10. Epub 2010 Dec 30. PMID: 21193661; PMCID: PMC3067274.