Motivation and Approach
Our group works on understanding the interaction of marine biofouling organisms with surfaces in order to support the substitution of the majorly toxic anti-fouling coatings for under water applications. As the European Comission already banned tributyltin containing coatings and further restrictions for other toxic ingredients (e.g. copper or organic biocides) are negotiated, companies are forced to develop environmentally friendly solutions. We study the interaction of biofouling organisms with well defined interfaces to develop a mechanistic understanding of the adhesion processed. Therefore we establish new techniques and quantify adhesion strength via microfluidics, follow the colonization process by 3D tracking techniques and use modern X-ray nanoscopy techniques to derive a mechanistic understanding on the adhesion proceses.
Biofouling on ship hulls
Advanced surfaces and interface characterization
We pursue a knowledge driven and rationale design approach in which coating properties are correlated with anti-fouling or foul release activity. Therefore we systematically tailor surface properties and investigate the influence of specific surface chemistries and morphologies on the anti-fouling performance. To modify surface energy, hydration, charge, or entropy, self-assembly on the basis of silane or thiol chemistry is used. Biomacromolecules are additionally coupled to such primer matrices to obtain inert properties. Bioinspired morphologies are prepared by self-assembled structures (e.g. layer by layer application of polyelectrolytes).
Tuning of surface properties by self assembly and bioinspires surface morphologies
To verify successful application of the coatings, state-of-the-art surface analysis is applied. The chemical composition and film thickness is quantified by photoelectron spectroscopy, spectral ellipsometry and infrared absorption spectroscopy (IRRAS). Wetting properties are characterized by contact angle goniometry. To analyze structure and mechanical properties electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and optical and confocal microscopy are applied. Interaction of the surfaces with biomacromolecules, such as proteins, is monitored by spectral ellipsometry, quartz crystal microbalance and surface plasmon resonance (SPR).
This work receives financial support from
ONR (Office of Naval Research)