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Biofouling: Lessons From Nature

Gregory D. Bixler, Bharat Bhushan

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Biofouling is generally undesirable for many applications. An overview of the medical, marine and industrial fields susceptible to fouling is presented. Two types of fouling include biofouling from organism colonization and inorganic fouling from non-living particles. Nature offers many solutions to control fouling through various physical and chemical control mechanisms. Examples include low drag, low adhesion, wettability (water repellency and attraction), microtexture, grooming, sloughing, various miscellaneous behaviours and chemical secretions. A survey of nature's flora and fauna was taken in order to discover new antifouling methods that could be mimicked for engineering applications. Antifouling methods currently employed, ranging from coatings to cleaning techniques, are described. New antifouling methods will presumably incorporate a combination of physical and chemical controls.