Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Nanoscale Science and Engineering


Nanoscale Engineering

Content Description

1 online resource (xv, 189 pages) : color illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Nathaniel C Cady

Committee Members

Thomas Kiehl, Susan Sharfstein, Yubing Xie


Nanobiotechnology, Fouling, Surfaces (Technology), Bacteria, Protective coatings, Fouling organisms

Subject Categories

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology


Bacteria are exceptionally good at adhering to surfaces and forming complex structures known as biofilms. This process, known as biofouling, can cause problems for infrastructure (eg, clogging and damaging pipes), for the food industry (eg, contamination of processing surfaces and equipment, and for the medical industry (eg, contamination of indwelling medical devices). Accordingly, multiple strategies have been explored to combat biofouling, including chemical modification of surfaces, development of antibiotic coatings, and more recently, the use of engineered surface topography. When designed properly, engineered surface topographies can significantly reduce bacterial surface attachment, ultimately limiting surface colonization. In this work, we hypothesized that the morphology, size, spacing, and surface pre-treatment of topographical features should directly correlate with the size and shape of target organisms, in order to reduce biofouling. Topographical features with size and spacing from 0.25 to 2 μm were fabricated in silicone elastomer and tested against rod shaped bacteria with an average size of 0.5 x 2 μm and spherical bacteria (cocci) ranging from 0.5 - 1 μm in diameter. Antifouling properties of the different topographical features were tested in both static and flow-based assays, and under oxygen plasma-treated (hydrophilic) and untreated (hydrophobic) surface conditions. We found that surface pre-treatment universally affects the ability bacteria to attach to surfaces, while surface topography limits attachment in a manner dependent on the bacterial size/shape and the size/spacing of the topography.