The Loh Down On Science

The Usual Suspects

Excuse me--is that the latest issue of "Biofouling"?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying now there's an academic journal that really knows how to sling mud!

It's where Duke University bioengineer Gabriel Lopez often publishes experimental results. Like the ones on a class of materials called "stimuli-responsive surfaces."

See, marine vessels' hulls are highly susceptible to sliming. Sheets of bacteria, AKA biofilms, glom on and won't let go. The result? Increased drag, which is, well, a bummer.

Although hulls and other underwater surfaces can be coated with antibacterial paints, these are often toxic. So Lopez's lab is looking for ... not really a greener solution, but an environmentally safer one.

They're testing two types of synthetic surfaces--one that responds to temperature, the other to an applied voltage. In each case, the surfaces respond by changing texture--they wrinkle. In effect, they "shrug off" cling-ons: barnacles, seaweed, biofilms--all the usual suspects.

Biofouling! Get your subscription now.



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