Chemical and physical factors in design of antibiofouling polymer coatings

Inbal Eshet, Viatcheslav Freger, Roni Kasher, Moshe Herzberg, Jing Lei, Mathias Ulbricht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Because most "low fouling" polymers resisting bacterial attachment are hydrophilic, they are usually also significantly swollen. Swelling leads to purely physical dilution of interaction and weakens attachment; however, these nonspecific contributions are usually not separated from the specific effect of polymer chemistry. Taking advantage of the fact that chemistry and swelling of hydrogels may be independently varied through the fraction of a cross-linker, the roles of chemistry and physical dilution (swelling) in bacterial attachment are analyzed for selected hydrogels. Using as a quantitative indicator the rate of bacterial deposition in a parallel plate setup under defined flow conditions, the observed correlation of deposition rate with swelling provides a straightforward comparison of gels with different chemistries that can factor out the effect of swelling. In particular, it is found that chemistry appears to contribute similarly to bacterial deposition on hydrogels prepared from acrylamide and a zwitterioninic monomer 2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl) dimethyl-(3-sulfopropyl) ammonium hydroxide so that the observed differences may be related to swelling only. In contrast, these gels were inferior to PEG-based hydrogels, even when swelling of the latter was lower, indicating a greater contribution of PEG chemistry to reduced bacterial deposition. This demonstrates that swelling must be accounted for when comparing different biofouling-resistant materials. Chemical and physical principles may be combined in hydrogel coatings to develop efficient antibiofouling surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2681-2685
Number of pages5
Issue number7
StatePublished - 11 Jul 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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