Ultrascalable Multifunctional Nanoengineered Copper and Aluminum for Antiadhesion and Bactericidal Applications

Julian H. Reed, Andrew E. Gonsalves, Jessica K. Román, Junho Oh, Hyeongyun Cha, Catherine E. Dana, Marco Toc, Sungmin Hong, Jacob B. Hoffman, Juan E. Andrade, Kyoo D. Jo, Marianne Alleyne, Nenad Miljkovic, Donald M. Cropek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biofouling disrupts the surface functionality and integrity of engineered substrates. A variety of natural materials such as plant leaves and insect wings have evolved sophisticated physical mechanisms capable of preventing biofouling. Over the past decade, several reports have pinpointed nanoscale surface topography as an important regulator of surface adhesion and growth of bacteria. Although artificial nanoengineered features have been used to create bactericidal materials that kill adhered bacteria, functional surfaces capable of synergistically providing antiadhesion and bactericidal properties remain to be developed. Furthermore, fundamental questions pertaining to the need for intrinsic hydrophobicity to achieve bactericidal performance and the role of structure length scale (nano vs micro) are still being explored. Here, we demonstrate highly scalable, cost-effective, and efficient nanoengineered multifunctional surfaces that possess both antiadhesion and bactericidal properties on industrially relevant copper (Cu) and aluminum (Al) substrates. We characterize antiadhesion and bactericidal performance using a combination of scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), live/dead bacterial staining and imaging, as well as solution-phase and Petrifilm measurements of bacterial viability. Our results showed that nanostructures created on both Cu and Al were capable of physical deformation of adhered Escherichia coli bacteria. Bacterial viability measurements on both Cu and Al indicated a complex interaction between the antiadhesion and bactericidal nature of these materials and their surface topography, chemistry, and structure. Increased superhydrophobicity greatly decreased bacterial adhesion while not significantly influencing surface bactericidal performance. Furthermore, we observed that more densely packed nanoscale structures improved antiadhesion properties when compared to larger features, even over extended time scales of up to 24 h. Our data suggests that the superhydrophobic Al substrate possesses superior antiadhesion and bactericidal effects, even over long time courses. The techniques and insights presented here will inform future work on antiadhesion and bactericidal multifunctional surfaces and enable their rational design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2726-2737
Number of pages12
JournalACS Applied Bio Materials
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 15 2019


  • bactericidal
  • bioinspired
  • nanostructures
  • superhydrophobic
  • surface chemistry
  • topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biochemistry, medical


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