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Syracuse University researchers build a new surface material that resists biofilm growth
Date:3/19/2009

"Langmuir," published by the American Chemical Society (forthcoming in print).

Luk and Ren began collaborating about three years ago when they discovered a common thread in their individual research effortsthe desire to chemically modify surfaces to prevent biofouling. They went on to create a surface that seems to repel both bacteria and mammalian cells when the molecule is chemically applied to a surface. The surface used in the laboratory is a thin film of gold coated on a glass slide.

They explain their research in terms of land, soil, and plants. "You start with a glass surface (the land); apply a thin film of gold to that surface, about 20 nanometers or five atoms thick (the soil); then top the gold with the molecules we created in the laboratory (the trees)," Luk says. "The goal is to see if the special molecules (trees) can resist or prevent protein from sticking to the overall surface. Put another way, do the trees provide an inhospitable environment for birds (the biofilm) and therefore prevent them from roosting en mass?"

The surface the researchers created in the laboratory was able to confine the growth of bacteria to surface patterns of desired, two-dimensional shapes. In other words, the researchers were able to control the growth of the biofilm with the surface material, allowing the biofilm to form in some places and restricting its growth in others. Additionally, the scientists found that when confined in two dimensions, the biofilm grew in a vertical direction.

In other experiments, the scientists discovered important differences in the way mammalian cells and bacteria attach to a surface. "Our surfaces are able to reveal that mammalian cell adhesion requires the existence of an anchor, while bacteria can adhere to almost any sticky surface," Luk says.

The researchers' discoveries and the surface technology they developed can be used to answer critical questions that previously eluded s
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Contact: Judy Holmes
jlholmes@syr.edu
315-443-8085
Syracuse University
Source:Eurekalert

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