I have always been fascinated by concocted materials that serve special functions. I believe many of them offer priceless benefits to the world. The invention of vulcanized rubber, for instance, made it possible for things like tires and shoe soles to have the properties and functions they possess. Recently, there was a report published pertaining to the creation of a bacteria-killing, polymer coating.
Basically, this coating has two special functions. Its first state allows it to kill the bacteria that comes in contact with it. The material can also switch into a second state that removes the dead bacteria attached to it and prevent new ones from attaching. This "one-two punch" approach to fighting bacterial contact would have many practical applications in the real world. It seems fitting that such a material will one day find its way into clothing fabric. Clothes made of such materials would be the ultimate "clean" attire. This material can also be useful in hospitals rooms where a sterile environment is many times crucial.
Unfortunately, this technology isn't without some form of drawbacks. In order for the material to go back to its first state (bacteria-killing) from its second state (bacteria-repelling), a weak acid like vinegar has to be added. That is to say, this material isn't exactly self-sufficient. Nonetheless, this is actually an improvement from where the project was three years ago. Back then, there was no way to switch the material back to the first state. It loses its antibacterial properties after the first encounter with bacteria. There is also the question of whether it is healthy to be devoid of the bacteria around us. There is already the debate about the harm of washing our hands too much on our ability to fight bacterial attacks.
Anyways, this is how I would analyze this technology (low-mid-high):
Current utility (mid) - It seems to be very useful but it is hindered by the need to apply weak acids to it in order to regenerate. Also, it is still in its early stage of development (non-commercialized) therefore there is still no way to tell how this material will fare in real world circumstances.
Feasibility (unknown) - The cost and practicality of producing such a material is still not known. Either way, I will guess that it will be worth it considering its utility. For now, its feasibility is still pending.
Future potential (high) - This material has a lot of potential applications and may someday be ubiquitous as a material for many of the things we use and encounter everyday. It just needs to be developed more into a self-sufficient and low-maintenance material.
X-factor (mid) - I know that this type of material is the dream of many people. Imagine being in a time where we won't have to worry about germs and bacteria because they will automatically be taken cared of by the special surfaces around us. The notion of living in that kind of world is just fascinating. Of course, the idea of a bacteria-killing surface or the attempts to create it is not something new. However, there is comfort in knowing that such a thing is actually possible as is shown by the study.
Below is an illustration of the bacteria-killing and bacteria-repelling process:
Source: Study, BBC article