Design and microstructuring of PDMS surfaces for improved marine biofouling resistance

  • Petronis Š
  • Berntsson K
  • Gold J
 et al. 
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In this study room temperature vulcanized (RTV) silicone surfaces with designed surface microstructure and well-defined surface chemistry were prepared. Their resistance to marine macrofouling by barnacles Balanus improvisus was tested in field experiments for deducing optimal surface topography dimensions together with a better understanding of macrofouling mechanisms. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) surfaces were microstructured by casting the PDMS pre-polymer on microfabricated molds. The master molds were made by utilizing photolithography and anisotropic etching of monocrystalline silicon wafers. Several iterative casting steps of PDMS and epoxy were used to produce large quantities of microstructured PDMS samples for field studies. The microstructured PDMS surface consisted of arrays of pyramids or riblets creating a surface arithmetic mean roughness ranging from 5 to 17 microm for different microstructure sizes and geometries, as determined by scanning electron microscopy. Chemophysical properties of the microstructured films were investigated by electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis, time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectroscopy and dynamic contact angle measurements. Films were chemically homogeneous down to the submicron level. Hydrophobicity and contact angle hysteresis increased with increased surface roughness. Field tests on the west coast of Sweden revealed that the microstructure containing the largest riblets (profile height 69 microm) reduced the settling of barnacles by 67%, whereas the smallest pyramids had no significant influence on settling compared to smooth PDMS surfaces. The effect of dimensions and geometry of the surface microstructures on the B. improvisus larvae settling is discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Barnacles
  • Marine non-fouling technologies
  • Microfabrication
  • PDMS
  • Surface characterization

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  • Šarunas Petronis

  • Kent Berntsson

  • Julie Gold

  • Paul Gatenholm

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