Living organisms and biological substances are among the most difficult and persistent sources of surface fouling, particularly in medical and marine settings. The ability of organisms to adapt, move, cooperate, evolve on short timescales, and modify surfaces by secreting proteins and other molecules enables them to colonize even state-of-the-art antifouling coatings, and small surface defects can trigger protein aggregation and blood clotting. Attempts to combat these issues are further hindered by conflicting requirements at different size scales and across different species.
The defect-free, dynamic liquid interface of SLIPS overcomes many of these problems at once. A single surface is able to prevent adhesion of a broad range of genetically diverse bacteria, including many pathogenic species that underlie widespread hospital-acquired infections, as well as marine algae. The same approach resists adhesion of proteins, cells, and blood, preventing clogging and thrombus formation inside medical tubing and catheters. At a larger scale, the slippery interface repels insects, which slide off and actively avoid the coated surface. We are currently developing this strategy to solve longstanding fouling issues in a wide range of medical, marine, and other settings.
Carnivorous Plant Inspires Anticlotting Medical Devices, Scientific American podcast, October 15, 2014.
Slippery When Coated: Helping Medical Devices Prevent Blood Clots, NPR, October 12, 2014.
Bioinspired coating for medical devices repels blood and bacteria, Harvard press release, October 12, 2014.
SLIPS Blitz Biofilms, Nature, August 9, 2012.
Harvard scientists' breakthrough could stop biofilm formation, Food Production Daily, August 9, 2012.
Super slippery surface prevents biofilms, PNAS, July 31, 2012.
New coating evicts biofilms for good, Harvard press release, July 30, 2012.