• antibacterial surfaces;
  • functional coatings;
  • self-healing;
  • stimuli-responsive materials;
  • supramolecular materials

Optically transparent antibacterial films capable of healing scratches and restoring transparency are fabricated by exponential layer-by-layer assembly of branched polyethylenimine (bPEI)/poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) films and post-diffusion of cetyltrimethylammonium bromide micelles encapsulated with antibacterial agent triclosan. The triclosan-loaded bPEI/PAA transparent films can effectively inhibit the growth of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria by the sustained release of triclosan molecules. Healing of multiple scratches on the triclosan-loaded bPEI/PAA films can be conveniently achieved by immersing the films in water or spraying water on the damaged films, which also fully restores their transparency. The self-healing ability of these transparent antibacterial films originates from the ability of bPEI and PAA to flow and recombine in the presence of water. The triclosan-loaded bPEI/PAA films have satisfactory mechanical stability under ambient conditions, and thus show potential for application as transparent protective films with antibacterial properties.