Inspired by the long-term effectiveness of living antifouling materials, we have developed a method for the self-replenishment of synthetic biofouling-release surfaces. These surfaces are created by either molding or directly embedding 3D vascular systems into a polymer matrix and infusing them with a compatible lubricant to generate a non-toxic oil-infused material capable of self-lubrication and renewal of the interfacial foul-release layer. Under accelerated lubricant loss conditions, fully-infused vascularized samples retained significantly more lubricant than equivalent non-vascularized controls. Furthermore, non-infused samples could be saturated with lubricant through the vascular system alone. Tests of lubricant-infused samples in static cultures of the infectious bacteriaStaphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli as well as the green microalgaeBotryococcus braunii, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Dunaliella salina, andNannochloropsis oculata showed a significant reduction in biofilm adhesion compared to polymer and glass controls containing no lubricant. Further experiments on vascularized versus non-vascularized samples that had been subjected to accelerated lubricant evaporation conditions for up to 48 h showed significantly less biofilm adherence on the vascularized surfaces. These results demonstrate the ability of an embedded lubricant-filled vascular network to improve the longevity of fouling-release surfaces.
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University
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