Tiny molecular daggers that latch onto fibres stab and destroy microbes have been created, meaning “killer clothes” may soon be available. Anti-fungal socks could take on athlete’s foot while, on a more serious note, military uniforms could kill anthrax.

In the past, glass surfaces coated with miniature antibacterial saws have killed bacteria. But now a molecule that “stabs” microbes has been developed by Robert Engel, of Queens College at The City University of New York, and colleagues.

The molecular dagger has two sections. The stubby end, or dagger handle, is made of two interlinked, nitrogen-rich carbon rings. The “blade” is a carbon chain up to 16 atoms long, populated only by hydrogen atoms. It has a strong affinity for fatty surfaces.
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