Antifouling Electrospun Nanofiber Mats Functionalized with Polymer Zwitterions

Kristopher W. Kolewe, Kerianne M. Dobosz, Katrina A. Rieger, Chia Chih Chang, Todd Emrick, Jessica D. Schiffman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


In this study, we exploit the excellent fouling resistance of polymer zwitterions and present electrospun nanofiber mats surface functionalized with poly(2-methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine) (polyMPC). This zwitterionic polymer coating maximizes the accessibility of the zwitterion to effectively limit biofouling on nanofiber membranes. Two facile, scalable methods yielded a coating on cellulose nanofibers: (i) a two-step sequential deposition featuring dopamine polymerization followed by the physioadsorption of polyMPC, and (ii) a one-step codeposition of polydopamine (PDA) with polyMPC. While the sequential and codeposited nanofiber mat assemblies have an equivalent average fiber diameter, hydrophilic contact angle, surface chemistry, and stability, the topography of nanofibers prepared by codeposition were smoother. Protein and microbial antifouling performance of the zwitterion modified nanofiber mats along with two controls, cellulose (unmodified) and PDA coated nanofiber mats were evaluated by dynamic protein fouling and prolonged bacterial exposure. Following 21 days of exposure to bovine serum albumin, the sequential nanofiber mats significantly resisted protein fouling, as indicated by their 95% flux recovery ratio in a water flux experiment, a 300% improvement over the cellulose nanofiber mats. When challenged with two model microbes Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus for 24 h, both zwitterion modifications demonstrated superior fouling resistance by statistically reducing microbial attachment over the two controls. This study demonstrates that, by decorating the surfaces of chemically and mechanically robust cellulose nanofiber mats with polyMPC, we can generate high performance, free-standing nanofiber mats that hold potential in applications where antifouling materials are imperative, such as tissue engineering scaffolds and water purification technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27585-27593
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number41
StatePublished - 19 Oct 2016


  • antifouling
  • dopamine
  • electrospin
  • nanofiber
  • phosphorylcholine
  • zwitterion


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