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Biology Articles » Bioengineering » Biomaterials Approaches to Combating Oral Biofilms and Dental Disease » Surfaces That Change Phase on Command

Surfaces That Change Phase on Command
- Biomaterials Approaches to Combating Oral Biofilms and Dental Disease

The surface-grafted thermally responsive polymer poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide) (PNIPAM) has a critical-solubility temperature of about 32°C, making it insoluble in water at temperatures above 32°C but soluble at temperatures below 32°C.

In lab tests, >90% of microorganisms (Staphylococcus epidermidis, Halomonas marina) and naturally-occurring marine microorganisms that attached to PNIPAM grafted to polystyrene surfaces were removed immediately when the hydration state of the polymer was changed by simply rinsing the samples in cold (4°C) water [3]. Confluent sheets of mammalian cells can also be rapidly detached from similar PNIPAM-grafted surfaces when the temperature is shifted from 37°C to room temperature. Whether temperature changes can remove thick bacterial biofilms from such surfaces remains to be evaluated.


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