, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 121-125

Lower critical solubility temperature materials as biofouling release agents

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Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAM) exhibits a lower critical solubility temperature (LCST) of 32°C. Using thin films of this compound as a model system, the potential of ‘smart polymers’ as biofouling-release agents was examined. PNIPAAM-coated glass slides were incubated in artificial sea water containing the marine bacterium Halomonas marina or in natural bay water at a temperature above the LCST. Upon rinsing of the biofouled samples with artificial sea water below the LCST, the dissolution of the coating released over 90% of the attached fouling material, a significant increase over the release obtained for glass controls. These experiments demonstrate the potential of PNIPAAM and similar polymers as possible fouling-release agents, and suggest that tethered PNIPAAM (or similar polymers) may be useful as regenerable fouling-release surfaces.

Received 26 September 1997/ Accepted in revised form 29 November 1997