Bioinspired Liquid-infused Materials for Antibacterial Applications


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date16 Aug 2019


Nature abounds with organisms that have various strategies to prevent harmful biofouling and bacterial invasion. In this thesis, we mainly focus on the development of pitcher-plant-inspired liquid-infused slippery surfaces and mucus-inspired supramolecular antibacterial adhesive.

In the first part of the thesis, we introduce stable and mechanically robust bi-component nanocomposite capable of post modification for the development of multifunctional liquid-infused materials. The non-polar polymer network provides mechanical robustness and compatibility to mineral oils for lubrication and surface slipperiness, and the polar nanoparticles improve loading capacity with polar molecules for functionalization. Besides the surface slipperiness, we successfully integrate desirable physicochemical properties into the nanocomposite by printing specific inks on the nanocomposites. Its unique properties that include controllable surface slipperiness, self-reporting on the loss of liquid repellency, sensing the temperature of contacting liquids, are demonstrated by the printed nanocomposites with lubrication treatment. Our design strategy can be applied to the development of multifunctional liquid-infused materials for applications in anti-fouling coating, food/medical packaging, smart windows and sensors.

Second, the supramolecular antibacterial adhesive is obtained through co-assembly of polyurea oligomers and carvacrol oils (one kind of essential oil molecules). The adhesive is constructed with hydrogen bond interactions, which combines oil-regulated mechanical property, processability, reusable adhesivity and extreme longevity in both air and water. More importantly, these PU-C materials can serve as antibacterial coatings with both efficient contact killing bacteria and long-term controlled release abilities, enabling versatile antibacterial applications such as prevention of airborne transmission, disinfection of water containing bacteria, and eradication the refractory biofilm.

In summary, we present two general strategies to design antibacterial materials by gaining insights from nature. One strategy is introducing active molecules (e.g., inks and antibiotics) into the liquid-infused materials to achieve multifunctionality, including “passive” anti-adhesion of bacteria, self-reporting on the loss of liquid repellency, sensing the temperature of contacting liquids. The other strategy is incorporating the antibacterial agents (e.g., essential oils) into supramolecular system by the co-assembly method, resulting in supramolecular adhesives which are endowed with the functions of mucus, including “active” killing efficiency, oil-regulated mechanical property and long-term controlled release abilities, enabling versatile antibacterial application.