Understanding the interaction between surfaces coated with polymers and model biopolymers


Assess the impact of surface modifying polymers to prevent the adhesion and enhance the removal of model biopolymers (typically found in biofilms) from surfaces


Selected ESR: Helena Mateos Cuadrado

Supervisor Name: Gerardo Palazzo, Nicola Cioffi

Industrial Supervisors: Anju Brooker, Eric Robles

Recruiting Organisation: CSGI at University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy


The research has focused on studying surface modifying properties of a vast range of structurally diverse polymer molecules on household surfaces such as glass, plastics and stainless steel. These surfaces are regularly exposed to moisture, high temperature, body soil and personal cleansing products, a combination of these have been known to provide a perfect environment for bacterial survival and, if this remains untreated, the growth of mature biofilms. These studies assess the durability of these polymers after multiple wash cycles and the efficacy of these modified surfaces on repelling model organics molecules representative of biological molecules found on soiled surfaces and those contaminated with a representative biofilm.

The deposition kinetics and the surface coverage of the polymer coatings was determined by means of surface plasmon resonance (SPR), while streaming potential and zeta potential (ZP) measurements were performed to evaluate surface charge and colloidal charge, respectively. This information was combined with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of the deposited polymers. The biological soil deposition on the treated surfaces was followed by means of SPR, combined with fluorescent measurements where adsorption isotherms were generated by indirectly measuring residual protein concentration in solution after equilibration with treated surfaces. The influence of the soil deposition on the surface charge has also been studied by means of streaming potential measurements.