Oil-infused polydimethylsiloxane prevents zebra mussel attachment

Kimmins, Kenneth 1; James, Bryan 2; Nguyen, Minh-Tam 2; Hatton, Benjamin 1, 2; Sone, Eli 1, 2, 3

1. Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto; 2. Department of Materials Science & Engineering, University of Toronto; 3. Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto

Biofouling by the invasive freshwater mussel species Dreissena polymorpha (zebra mussel) causes extensive ecological and economic damage each year in North America due to their ability to adhere to a wide variety of substrates underwater. The recently developed oil-infused polydimethylsiloxane (iPDMS) has shown promise in bacterial and marine biofouling owing to its omniphobic surface liquid barrier, but its effectiveness against zebra mussels has not been previously evaluated. To determine the anti-fouling capacity, iPDMS substrates with varying levels of oil saturation were fabricated, and then presented to zebra mussels for reattachment in a simulated freshwater environment for 3 days. On saturated iPDMS, zebra mussels showed no attachment, compared to 48% reattachment on the control substrate. Sub-saturated iPDMS displayed lower frequency and force of attachment than the control. Characterization of iPDMS after the 3-day period showed significant changes in the slide angle in sub-saturated iPDMS, which may be due to the substrate being more prone to micro-fouling; no oil loss was observed in both sub-saturated and fully saturated iPDMS. Employing iPDMS as an anti-fouling coating may be a cost-effective semi-permanent solution against freshwater mussel attachment, and further aids in understanding the anti-fouling mechanism of iPDMS.