Impact of surface modification on biofilm adhesion and growth on real consumer substrates


Understand surface modification effect on Biofilm adhesion and removal on real consumer items especially porous substrates (e.g. fabric, sponge)


Selected ESR: Alessandra Valentini

Supervisor Name: Anju Brooker, Eric Robles

Academic Supervisors: Serafilm Bakalis, Wuge Briscoe

Recruiting Organisation: P&G Newcastle, UK


The research is based on mechanistic understanding of polymers role at relevant interfaces for cleaning applications. These interfaces could be solid/liquid interfaces (e.g. fabric/washing solution; soil particle/washing solution) or liquid/air interfaces (e.g. in foam). In fact, polymers could enhance cleaning in several ways that include:

-hydrophilization of synthetic fabrics to improve their wettability and lower hydrophobic soil adhesion

-hydrophilization and suspension of soil particles to facilitate their removal during the washing process

-stabilization of the air/water interface at the plateau border in foam, which results in higher suds robustness across the washing

All these mechanisms could avoid or delay the growth of biofilms due to the full removal of soil residues at these relevant interfaces.

The polymers evaluated belongs to different classes and are based on different chemistry, which will result in different mechanism of absorption and different interactions with detergent and relevant component of the biofilm. Initially, polymers deposition on top of relevant fabrics as polyester was evaluated by mean of streaming potential techniques and the shift in charge was compared to information related to percentage of polymer deposited after its assessment via UV-VIS. As these polymers are used in formulation, interactions between these polymers and surfactants would be assessed by use of techniques as surface tension measurements, light scattering and diffusion NMR analysis. In a later stage, interactions with relevant biomolecules present in the biofilm would be taken in account and assessed via streaming potential, zeta potential, mass spectrometry and soil removal test.