The as-quenched (AQ) microstructure of the Ag-containing alloys was found to be essentially a mixture of austenite (γ) and Ag phases. The Ag phase precipitates had a face-centered-cubic structure and lattice parameter a = 4.09 Å. When the alloy contained Ag ≥0.2 wt%, the mechanical properties were slightly enhanced because of the precipitate strengthening by the Ag phase precipitates. Moreover, the Ag-containing alloys exhibited ductile fracture after tensile testing. The results of an antibacterial test revealed that the Ag phase precipitates play a key role in the antibacterial mechanism of Ag-containing alloys: Ag+ ions released from the Ag phase precipitates can kill bacteria. It is suggested that as AISI 316L alloy has an Ag content ≥0.2 wt%, it will have excellent antibacterial properties against both Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, with an antibacterial rate of nearly 100%.
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