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Journal of Colloid and Interface Science
Volume 598, 2021, Pages 104-112

Marine antifouling coatings with surface topographies triggered by phase segregation

Xin Sua, Ming Yanga, Dezhao Haob, Xinglin Guoa, Lei Jiangb

Key Laboratory of Science and Technology on High-tech Polymer Materials, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China.


Marine biofouling is a ubiquitous and longstanding challenge that causes both economic and environmental problems. To address this, several antifouling strategies have been proposed, such as the release of biocidal compounds or surface chemical/physical design. Here we report a coating with surface structures (chemical heterogeneity) triggered by phase segregation, which endues the good antifouling properties, alongside robust mechanical properties, low underwater oil adhesion, and excellent optical transparency. This is achieved by arranging the hydrophobic and hydrophilic components to control the assembly and phase separation under the cross-linking and localized swelling process. The structure designs are based on the poly(ethylene glycols) (PEG), zwitterions, and hydrophobic components, which may lower the entropic and enthalpic driving forces for the adsorption of the marine organisms. Our approach could provide an effective way of manufacturing novel coating with amphiphilic micro/nanodomains structure, particularly for the marine industry. And we also showed that the coatings were stable under different temperatures and shear environments. To illustrate the applicability of such a robust coating in marine biofouling, we demonstrated significantly reduced algal adhesion and barnacle attachment in the sea (p < 0.01). We envision that this work will provide great potential for the application in antifouling marine coatings.

Keywords: Antifouling, Coatings, Surface structures, Phase segregation, Zwitterions.

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