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September 12, 1942


JAMA. 1942;120(2):127. doi:10.1001/jama.1942.02830370039012

Perfection of self-sterilizing plastics that can be used for the production of food containers, drinking cups and similar utensils or as a durable antiseptic paint or varnish to coat other exposed surfaces is now reported from the Rare Metal Institute, California Institute of Technology.1

Extremely small quantities of ionized copper, silver or gold have remarkable germicidal powers. Silver was selected by the California metallurgists as most promising because of its relatively low toxicity and comparative cheapness. The feasibility of coating surfaces with metallic silver was first ruled out, since such surfaces are soon "disactivated" by the formation of surface films of protein or other germicidally inert compounds. In order to produce a surface not susceptible to this "disactivation," only a portion of the available silver ions should be present on the surface, with an abundant supply of reserve ions protected from deterioration but so located as to permit rapid

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