Vascularized self-lubricating surfaces

Inspired by the long-term effectiveness of living antifouling materials, we have developed a method for the self-replenishment of synthetic biofouling-release surfaces. These surfaces are created by either molding or directly embedding 3D vascular systems into polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and filling them with a silicone oil to generate a non-toxic oil-infused material. When replenished with silicone oil from an outside source, these materials are capable of self-lubrication and continuous renewal of the interfacial fouling-release layer. Under accelerated lubricant loss conditions, fully-infused vascularized samples retained significantly more lubricant than equivalent non-vascularized controls. 

Tests of lubricant-infused PDMS in static cultures of the infectious bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli as well as the green microalgae Botryococcus braunii, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Dunaliella salina, and Nannochloropsis oculata showed a significant reduction in biofilm adhesion compared to PDMS and glass controls containing no lubricant. Further experiments on vascularized versus non-vascularized samples that had been subjected to accelerated lubricant evaporation conditions for up to 48 h showed significantly less biofilm adherence on the vascularized surfaces. These results demonstrate the ability of an embedded lubricant-filled vascular network to improve the longevity of fouling-release surfaces.