School of Engineering


AMBIO – Advanced nanostructured surfaces for the control of biofouling

All structures in marine environments suffer from aggressive biofouling, which is economically costly, and its control imposes environmental burdens through release of biocides. Current non-biocidal coatings are unsuitable for most applications. Hence there is a 'technology gap' demanding innovation. The biofouling process involves interfacial interactions between adhesive polymers secreted by the organisms and the substrate, the outcome of which is determined within a few nanometres of a surface. Control of interfacial phenomena requires, therefore, a capability for molecular-level engineering of surfaces.  The objective of the AMBIO project is to develop innovative, non-biocidal solutions to the problems of aquatic biofouling, using a range of molecular surface engineering approaches.   

At Newcastle we are engaged in evaluating these new approaches using barnacles and mussels as model fouling organisms.  Our primary responsibilities in AMBIO are to examine the ability of coatings to i) inhibit settlement of barnacle cyprids and ii) interfere with the adhesion of adult barnacles. We raise larvae of the barnacle Balanus amphitrite to the cyprid stage for settlement assays and settle and grow barnacles on surfaces to measure adhesive strength of juveniles.  The latter employs an automated version of the ASTM D5618 procedure.  In a parallel programme we are collaborating within AMBIO on hypothesis driven research to improve our understanding of how the properties of nanostructured surfaces or coatings influence the adhesion of fouling organisms.   

In addition to his role of lead PI on the project, Prof Clare acts as Director of Training for 5 AMBIO Training Associates who are working towards their PhDs.