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Lowering Protein Fouling By Rational Processing Of Fluorine-free Hydrophobic Coatings

Connor McGlothin, C. Rosu, L. Jiang, V. Breedveld, D. Hess
Published 2019 · Materials Science

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Abstract Protein fouling has a tremendous economic impact and thus requires persistent endeavors directed towards designing surfaces that are able to suppress this phenomenon. One approach is to use multifunctional protective coatings and reduce protein adhesion. While it is commonly accepted that hydrophilic surfaces repel proteins, conflicting data have lately concerned their hydrophobic counterparts. Here we investigate the potential in reducing protein adhesion of hydrophobic surfaces, glass (GS) and stainless steel (SS), modified by a two-step inorganic and a multi-step organic coatings. The inorganic coating derives from methyltrimethoxysilane (MTMS) and the organic homologue consists of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA). The first part of the study offers new insights into systematically tuning preparation parameters leading to reproducible hydrophobic coating thicknesses that were highly robust and durable, regardless of the substrate nature. Treatment of SS with the two coatings under the same conditions confirmed the results found for GS. The last part of the study found that both MTMS-derived and PMMA-based coatings significantly reduced fetal bovine serum protein fouling with respect to uncoated substrates. The findings revealed that the dual-level coating morphology together with the molecular structure of MTMS and PMMA films are the key features in reducing protein fouling. The study is relevant for biomedical applications that require antifouling surfaces such as implant devices and surgical instruments.
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