International interest in metal-based antimicrobial coatings to control the spread of bacteria, fungi, and viruses via high contact human touch surfaces are growing at an exponential rate. This interest recently reached an all-time high with the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 disease, which has already claimed the lives of more than 5 million people worldwide. This global pandemic has highlighted the major role that antimicrobial coatings can play in controlling the spread of deadly viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and scientists and engineers are now working harder than ever to develop the next generation of antimicrobial materials. This article begins with a review of three discrete microorganism-killing phenomena of contact-killing surfaces, nanoprotrusions, and superhydrophobic surfaces. The antimicrobial properties of metals such as copper (Cu), silver (Ag), and zinc (Zn) are reviewed along with the effects of combining them with titanium dioxide (TiO2
) to create a binary or ternary contact-killing surface coatings. The self-cleaning and bacterial resistance of purely structural superhydrophobic surfaces and the potential of physical surface nanoprotrusions to damage microbial cells are then considered. The article then gives a detailed discussion on recent advances in attempting to combine these individual phenomena to create super-antimicrobial metal-based coatings with binary or ternary killing potential against a broad range of microorganisms, including SARS-CoV-2, for high-touch surface applications such as hand rails, door plates, and water fittings on public transport and in healthcare, care home and leisure settings as well as personal protective equipment commonly used in hospitals and in the current COVID-19 pandemic.
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