Understanding the effects of biofilm structural and mechanical properties, which can influence biofilm cohesiveness and detachment under physical stress, is critical for biofilm and biofilm-associated pathogen control. In this study, we used optical coherence tomography (OCT) and nanoindentation to determine the role of silicate and tin (two experimental nonphosphate corrosion inhibitors) on the porous structure and stiffness of three types of multispecies biofilms. These biofilms were grown from groundwater (a drinking water source), and this groundwater was amended with either tin or silicate corrosion inhibitor (0.5 mg/L as Sn and 20 mg/L as SiO2). Based on the elastic moduli of these biofilms, tin biofilms and groundwater biofilms were the stiffest, followed by silicate biofilms. The thickness normalized by the growth time for silicate biofilms was highest at 38 ± 7.1 μm/month, compared to 21 ± 3.2 and 11 ± 2.4 μm/month for tin biofilms and groundwater biofilms, respectively. The silicate biofilms had the greatest overall porosities and were thickest among the three biofilms. Based on the pore network modeling (PNM) of OCT images, larger pores and connections were found in the silicate biofilms compared to those in tin and groundwater biofilms. Our analysis showed that the thicker and more porous biofilms (silicate biofilms) were potentially less resistant to deformation than the thinner and denser biofilms (tin and groundwater biofilms).

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEnvironmental science & technology
Early online dateOct 30 2020
StateE-pub ahead of print - Oct 30 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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