Producing Fluorine- and Lubricant-Free Flexible Pathogen- and Blood-Repellent Surfaces Using Polysiloxane-Based Hierarchical Structures
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High-touch surfaces are known to be a major route for the spread of pathogens in healthcare and public settings. Antimicrobial coatings have, therefore, garnered significant attention to help mitigate the transmission of infectious diseases via the surface route. Among antimicrobial coatings, pathogen-repellent surfaces provide unique advantages in terms of safety in public settings such as instant repellency, affordability, biocompatibility, and long-term stability. While there have been many advances in the fabrication of biorepellent surfaces in the past two decades, this area of research continues to suffer challenges in scalability, cost, compatibility with high-touch applications, and performance for pathogen repellency. These features are critical for high-touch surfaces to be used in public settings. Additionally, the environmental impact of manufacturing repellent surfaces remains a challenge, mainly due to the use of fluorinated coatings. Here, we present a flexible hierarchical coating with straightforward and cost-effective manufacturing without the use of fluorine or a lubricant. Hierarchical surfaces were prepared through the growth of polysiloxane nanostructures using n-propyltrichlorosilane (n-PTCS) on activated polyolefin (PO), followed by heat shrinking to induce microscale wrinkles. The developed coatings demonstrated repellency, with contact angles over 153° and sliding angles <1°. In assays mimicking touch, these hierarchical surfaces demonstrated a 97.5% reduction in transmission of Escherichia coli (E.coli), demonstrating their potential as antimicrobial coatings to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases. Additionally, the developed surfaces displayed a 93% reduction in blood staining after incubation with human whole blood, confirming repellent properties that reduce bacterial deposition.