Antifouling Properties of a Self-Assembling Glutamic Acid-Lysine Zwitterionic Polymer Surface Coating Academic Article uri icon


  • There is a need for the development of antifouling materials to resist adsorption of bio-macromolecules. Here we describe the preparation of a novel zwitterionic block co-polymer with the potential to prevent or delay the formation of microbial biofilms. The block co-polymer comprised of a zwitterionic (hydrophilic) section of alternating glutamic acid (negatively-charged) and lysine (positively-charged) units and a hydrophobic polystyrene section. Cryo-TEM and dynamic-light-scattering (DLS) results showed that on average, the block co-polymer self-assembled into 7 nm diameter micelles in aqueous solutions (0 to 100 mM NaCl, pH 6). Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and contact angle measurements demonstrated that the block co-polymer self-assembled into a brush-like monolayer on polystyrene surfaces. The brush-like monolayer produced from a 100 mg/L block co-polymer solution exhibited an average distance, d, of approximately 4 - 8 nm between each block co-polymer molecule (center to center). Once the brush-like monolayer self-assembled, it reduced EPS adsorption onto the polystyrene surface by ~70% (mass), reduced the rate of bacterial attachment by >80%, and inhibited the development of thick biofilms. QCM-D results revealed that the EPS molecules penetrate between the chains of the brush and adsorb onto the polystyrene surface. Additionally, AFM analyses showed that the brush-like monolayer prevents the adhesion of large (>d) hydrophilic colloids onto the surface via hydration repulsion; however, molecules or colloids small enough to fit between the brush polymers (

publication date

  • April 23, 2018