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Diatom Microbubbler for Active Biofilm Removal in Confined Spaces

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posted on 14.08.2018, 00:00 by Yongbeom Seo, Jiayu Leong, Jun Dong Park, Yu-Tong Hong, Sang-Hyon Chu, Cheol Park, Dong Hyun Kim, Yu-Heng Deng, Vitaliy Dushnov, Joonghui Soh, Simon Rogers, Yi Yan Yang, Hyunjoon Kong
Bacterial biofilms form on and within many living tissues, medical devices, and engineered materials, threatening human health and sustainability. Removing biofilms remains a grand challenge despite tremendous efforts made so far, particularly when they are formed in confined spaces. One primary cause is the limited transport of antibacterial agents into extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) of the biofilm. In this study, we hypothesized that a microparticle engineered to be self-locomotive with microbubbles would clean a structure fouled by biofilm by fracturing the EPS and subsequently improving transports of the antiseptic reagent. We examined this hypothesis by doping a hollow cylinder-shaped diatom biosilica with manganese oxide (MnO2) nanosheets. In an antiseptic H2O2 solution, the diatoms doped by MnO2 nanosheets, denoted as diatom bubbler, discharged oxygen gas bubbles continuously and became self-motile. Subsequently, the diatoms infiltrated the bacterial biofilm formed on either flat or microgrooved silicon substrates and continued to generate microbubbles. The resulting microbubbles merged and converted surface energy to mechanical energy high enough to fracture the matrix of biofilm. Consequently, H2O2 molecules diffused into the biofilm and killed most bacterial cells. Overall, this study provides a unique and powerful tool that can significantly impact current efforts to clean a wide array of biofouled products and devices.