Coatings developed to reduce biofouling of engineered surfaces do not always perform as expected based on their native properties. One reason is that a relatively small number of highly adhesive sites, or the heterogeneity of the coated surface, may control the overall response of the system to initial bacterial deposition. It is shown here using an approach we call spectral force analysis (SFA), based on force volume imaging of the surface with atomic force microscopy, that the behavior of surfaces and coatings can be better understood relative to bacterial adhesion. The application of vapor deposited TiO2 metal oxide increased bacterial and colloid adhesion, but coating the surface with silica oxide reduced adhesion in a manner consistent with SFA based on analysis of the "stickiest" sites. Application of a TiO2-based paint to a surface produced a relatively non-fouling surface. Addition of a hydrophilic layer coating to this surface should have decreased fouling. However, it was observed that this coating actually increased fouling. Using SFA it was shown that the reason for the increased adhesion of bacteria and particles to the hydrophilic layer was that the surface produced by this coating was highly heterogeneous, resulting in a small number of sites that created a stickier surface. These results show that while it is important to manufacture surfaces with coatings that are relatively non-adhesive to bacteria, it is also essential that these coatings have a highly uniform surface chemistry.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Surfaces and Interfaces
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry