Day and his colleagues, including former student Dr. Mark Ott and current graduate student Duwoon Kim, developed a combination of chemicals that first strip the biofilm from the bacteria and then kill them with disinfectant.
In dental equipment, the solution is injected into the water system at the end of the day and then flushed out the following morning. The results, Day says, are powerful.
"It's effective against organisms in films where normal cleaning isn't effective," he says. "It's rapid and works within one minute."
Day explains that pathogens that produce biofilms can be more virulent because normal remedies don't work on them. "The film is a defensive mechanism," he says.
Although the patented process was first used with dental equipment and has a bright future in those applications, Day says the chemicals can be put to a wide variety of uses.
The microbiologist explains that the chemical combination can be put in a spray bottle and used to clean most any surface.
"The uses are expanding beyond dental equipment," he says. "The next application may be poultry processing."