Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering (MSChE)


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Geoffrey D. Bothun


Biofouling, the accumulation and proliferation of microorganisms, plants, and fouling animals on surfaces in an aqueous environment, poses a significant challenge. For example, the effects of fouling of ship hauls include hydrodynamic drag, increase in fuel consumption by ships whose hulls have been fouled, and increase in frequency of dry-dock cleaning.

In the history of marine navigation, varieties of anti-biofouling control measures have been suggested but tributyltin self-polishing copolymer (TBT-SPC) paints have been the most effective and commercially viable option in curbing biofouling. However, leaching of tri-organotin biocides from TBT-SPC paints through self-polishing activity constitute pollution which led to the ban of biocide-base paints. We explored bio-inspired nature of lubricin and fabricated polyelectrolyte polymer brushes from commercially available polymer materials by Langmuir-Blodgett deposition technique (LB fabrication) in order to control grafting density and by ATRP.

Interfacial tension results indicate that PS60-b-PAA29, based on steric and electrostatic interaction within the block copolymer, is very stable over ranges of pHand temperatures similar to that of the marine ecosystem. Fluorescence microscope and atomic force microscope imaging, as well as, advancing contact angle measurements on the physically fabricated samples shows that there was successful fabrication of PS60-b-PAA29brushes on glass surfacevia Langmuir-Blodgett deposition.

While biofouling test is underway on the brushes fabricated by LB deposition technique, preliminary biofouling testing by M. Callow’s laboratory at the University of Birmingham on ATRP samples indicates that grafting duration (hence, thickness) of polyelectrolyte polymer brush has a direct impact on the film efficiency against biofouling.



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