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Langmuir. 2008 May 6;24(9):4931-7. doi: 10.1021/la703421v. Epub 2008 Mar 25.

Engineered nanoforce gradients for inhibition of settlement (attachment) of swimming algal spores.

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J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611-6400, USA.


Current antifouling strategies are focused on the development of environmentally friendly coatings that protect submerged surfaces from the accumulation of colonizing organisms (i.e., biofouling). One ecofriendly approach is the manipulation of the surface topography on nontoxic materials to deter settlement of the dispersal stages of fouling organisms. The identification of effective antifouling topographies typically occurs through trial-and-error rather than predictive models. We present a model and design methodology for the identification of nontoxic, antifouling surface topographies for use in the marine environment by the creation of engineered nanoforce gradients. The design and fabrication of these gradients incorporate discrete micrometer-sized features that are associated with the species-specific surface design technique of engineered topography and the concepts of mechanotransduction. The effectiveness of designed nanoforce gradients for antifouling applications was tested by evaluating the settlement behavior of zoospores of the alga Ulva linza. The surfaces with nanoforce gradients ranging from 125 to 374 nN all significantly reduced spore settlement relative to a smooth substrate, with the highest reduction, 53%, measured on the 374 nN gradient surface. These results confirm that the designed nanoforce gradients may be an effective tool and predictive model for the design of unique nontoxic, nonfouling surfaces for marine applications as well as biomedical surfaces in the physiological environment.

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