Electrochemical Approach for Effective Antifouling and Antimicrobial Surfaces

Sheng Long Gaw, Sujoy Sarkar, Sivan Nir, Yafit Schnell, Daniel Mandler, Zhichuan J. Xu*, Pooi See Lee, Meital Reches

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Biofouling, the adsorption of organisms to a surface, is a major problem today in many areas of our lives. This includes: (i) health, as biofouling on medical device leads to hospital-acquired infections, (ii) water, since the accumulation of organisms on membranes and pipes in desalination systems harms the function of the system, and (iii) energy, due to the heavy load of the organic layer that accumulates on marine vessels and causes a larger consumption of fuel. This paper presents an effective electrochemical approach for generating antifouling and antimicrobial surfaces. Distinct from previously reported antifouling or antimicrobial electrochemical studies, we demonstrate the formation of a hydrogen gas bubble layer through the application of a low-voltage square-waveform pulses to the conductive surface. This electrochemically generated gas bubble layer serves as a separation barrier between the surroundings and the target surface where the adhesion of bacteria can be deterred. Our results indicate that this barrier could effectively reduce the adsorption of bacteria to the surface by 99.5%. We propose that the antimicrobial mechanism correlates with the fundamental of hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). HER leads to an arid environment that does not allow the existence of live bacteria. In addition, we show that this drought condition kills the preadhered bacteria on the surface due to water stress. This work serves as the basis for the exploration of future self-sustainable antifouling techniques such as incorporating it with photocatalytic and photoelectrochemical reactions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)26503-26509
Number of pages7
JournalACS applied materials & interfaces
Issue number31
StatePublished - 9 Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


  • antibacterial
  • antifouling
  • electrochemical technique
  • electrolysis
  • gas bubbles


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