, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 39-45

Microbial degradation of polymeric coatings measured by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy

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Abstract

This paper reports results of biodegradation studies of polyimide coatings exposed to a mixed fungal culture using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The fungal consortium was originally isolated from degraded polyimides and identified species include Aspergillus versicolor, Cladosporium cladosporioides, and a Chaetomium species. Actively growing fungi on polyimides yield distinctive EIS spectra through time, indicative of failure of the polymer integrity compared to the uninoculated controls. An initial decline in coating resistance was related to the partial ingress of water molecules and ionic species into the polymeric matrices. This was followed by further degradation of the polymers by activity of the fungi. The relationship between the changes in impedance spectra and microbial degradation of the coatings was further supported by scanning electron microscopy, showing extensive colonization of the polyimide surfaces by the fungi. Our data indicate that EIS can be a sensitive and informative technique for evaluating the biosusceptibility of polymers and coatings.