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Title: Revealing Amphiphilic Nanodornains of Anti-Biofouling Polymer Coatings

Undesired bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation on wetted surfaces leads to significant economic and environmental costs in various industries. Amphiphilic coatings with molecular hydrophilic and hydrophobic patches can mitigate such biofouling effectively in an environmentally friendly manner. The coatings are synthesized by copolymerizing (Hydroxyethyl)methacrylate and perfluorodecylacrylate via initiated chemical vapor deposition (iCVD). In previous studies, the size of the patches was estimated to be similar to 1.4-1.75 nm by fitting protein adsorption data to a theoretical model. However, no direct observations of the molecular heterogeneity exist and therefore the origin of the fouling resistance of amphiphilic coatings remains unclear. Here, the amphiphilic nature is investigated by amplitude modulation atomic force microscopy (AM-AFM). High-resolution images obtained by penetrating and oscillating the AFM tip under the naturally present water layer with sub-nanometer amplitudes reveal, for the first time, the existence of amphiphilic nanodomains (1-2 nm(2)). Compositional heterogeneity at the nanoscale is further corroborated by a statistical analysis on the data obtained with dynamic AM-AFM force spectroscopy. Variations in the long range attractive forces, responsible for water affinity, are also identified. These nanoscopic results on the polymers wettability are also confirmed by contact angle measurements (i.e., static and dynamic). The unprecedented ability tomore » visualize the amphiphilic nanodomains as well as sub-nanometer crystalline structures provides strong evidence for the existence of previously postulated nanostructures, and sheds light on the underlying antifouling mechanism of amphiphilic chemistry.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces; Journal Volume: 6; Journal Issue: 7
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E)
Country of Publication:
United States