Excellent work by PhD student Chloe Richards on recent work published in the Materials Section of the publication Molecules. The piece is titled ‘Assessment of Antifouling Potential of Novel Transparent Sol Gel Coatings for Application in the Marine Environment.’
Her work encompasses overcoming the biofouling that occurs when artificial structures are immersed in water, arising from accumulation of organic matter and marine organisms. Accumulation of the biomass on such structures leads to damage of ships, sensors and buoys. Such damage is associated with economic loss for a variety of industries. Chloe has aimed to use structures and textures inspired by nature to overcome biofouling. The surface topography of marine fauna such as ‘brill’ fish and crabs exhibit antifouling properties. The published article describes a study of transparent coatings with potential sensor applications based on test panels deployed in marine environments for time scales of 9 and 13 months.
In recent years, there has become a growing need for the development of antifouling technology for application in the marine environment. The accumulation of large quantities of biomass on these surfaces cause substantial economic burdens within the marine industry, or adversely impact the performance of sensor technologies. Here, we present a study of transparent coatings with potential for applications on sensors or devices with optical windows. The focus of the study is on the abundance and diversity of biofouling organisms that accumulate on glass panels coated with novel transparent or opaque organically modified silicate (ORMOSIL) coatings. The diatom assessment was used to determine the effectiveness of the coatings against biofouling. Test panels were deployed in a marine environment in Galway Bay for durations of nine and thirteen months to examine differences in biofilm formation in both microfouling and macrofouling conditions. The most effective coating is one which consists of precursor, tetraethyl orthosilicate (HC006) that has a water contact angle > 100, without significant roughness (43.52 nm). However, improved roughness and wettability of a second coating, diethoxydimethylsilane (DMDEOS), showed real promise in relation to macrofouling reduction.