TPU Scientists Create Coating Enhancing Protection of Metal against Degradation in Water by 100 Folds

Scientists of Tomsk Polytechnic University jointly with their overseas colleagues have developed a coating, which reduces the biofouling of metals in water and other biological environments by 100 folds. The coating allows making medical implants more lasting and safer. The research findings are published in the Applied Surface Science journal (IF: 6,707, Q1).

Biofouling is the accumulation of undesirable deposits on metal surfaces submerged into the biological environment. It causes due to microorganism activity, reduces functional properties of metal and may lead to its destruction. The problem is relevant for many areas, in particular, marine vessels and medical devices to be implanted.

According to the scientists, the main solution is giving properties preventing microorganism settlement on the surface. For these purposes, titanium dioxide is frequently used, however, it is expensive and not effective in all cases.

The TPU scientists proposed a cheap means, which allows reducing the activity of biofouling by 100 folds. It is higher than indexes of titanium dioxide by several folds. First of all, the solution is designed to fight against pathogenic microbial flora on the surface of medical implants, however, it is also applicable for any other devices.

“Using cations, we combined bulk soft alginate films, which were obtained from brown algae (Phaeophyceae) with calcium and copper in different proportions. Moreover, we also researched the impact of strength film properties and their wettability with water and oil on the amount of settled microscopic life forms,”

Sergey Tverdokhlebov, Associate Professor of the TPU Weinberg Research Center, tells the journalists of the RIA Novosti news agency. 

According to the scientists, the structure of the film surface of copper alginate prevents attaching bacteria, microalgae and other organisms for which copper is toxic. Varying the volume of this metal in the film, it is possible to prepare a construction for operation in a certain environment taking into account its bioactivity.

In the long run, such films can be introduced in both shipbuilding and targeted drug delivery attaching required drug compounds to the film before implantation. It will allow reducing drug load to the organism and impeding contagion,”

Sergey Tverdokhlebov comments.

The research work was conducted jointly with experts of Harbin Institute of Technology (China).