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Design of surfaces for controlling hard and soft fouling

Alex Kate Halvey, Brian Macdonald, Abhishek Dhyani, Anish Tuteja

Abstract: In this review, we present a framework to guide the design of surfaces which are resistant to solid fouling, based on the modulus and length scale of the fouling material. Solid fouling is defined as the undesired attachment of solid contaminants including ice, clathrates, waxes, inorganic scale, polymers, proteins, dust and biological materials. We first provide an overview of the surface design approaches typically applied across the scope of solid fouling and explain how these disparate research efforts can be united to an extent under a single framework. We discuss how the elastic modulus and the operating length scale of a foulant determine its ability or inability to elastically deform surfaces. When surface deformation occurs, minimization of the substrate elastic modulus is critical for the facile de-bonding of a solid contaminant. Foulants with low modulus or small deposition sizes cannot deform an elastic bulk material and instead de-bond more readily from surfaces with chemistries that minimize their interfacial free energy or induce a particular repellant interaction with the foulant. Overall, we review reported surface design strategies for the reduction in solid fouling, and provide perspective regarding how our framework, together with the modulus and length scale of a foulant, can guide future antifouling surface designs.This article is part of the theme issue ‘Bioinspired materials and surfaces for green science and technology’.
Keywords: Coatings / Elastic modulus / surface chemistry / Low Adhesion / Solid Fouling / easy clean surfaces

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