Biofilm Removal by Reversible Shape Recovery of the Substrate

Sang Won Lee, Joseph Carnicelli, Dariya Getya, Ivan Gitsov, K. Scott Phillips, Dacheng Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Bacteria can colonize essentially any surface and form antibiotic resistant biofilms, which are multicellular structures embedded in an extracellular matrix secreted by the attached cells. To develop better biofilm control technologies, we recently demonstrated that mature biofilms can be effectively removed through on-demand shape recovery of a shape memory polymer (SMP) composed of tert-butyl acrylate (tBA). It was further demonstrated that such a dynamic substratum can sensitize the detached biofilm cells to antibiotics. However, this SMP can undergo shape change only once, limiting its application in long-term biofilm control. This motivated the present study, which aimed to prove the concept that biofilm can be effectively removed by repeated on-demand shape recovery. Reversible shape memory polymers (rSMPs) containing poly(ϵ-caprolactone) diisocyanatoethyl dimethacrylate (PCLDIMA) of varying molecular masses and butyl acrylate (BA) as a linker were synthesized by using benzoyl peroxide (BPO) as a thermal initiator. By comparison of several combinations of PCLDIMA of different molecular masses, a 2:1 weight ratio mixture of 2000 and 15000 g/mol PCLDIMA was the most promising because it had a shape transition (at 36.7 °C) close to body temperature. The synthesized rSMP demonstrated good reversible shape recovery and up to 94.3 ± 1.0% removal of 48 h Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 biofilm cells after three consecutive shape recovery cycles. Additionally, the detached biofilm cells were found to be 5.0 ± 1.2 times more susceptible to 50 μg/mL tobramycin than the static control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 21 2021


  • antibiotic susceptibility
  • biofilm removal
  • dynamic surface topography
  • reversible
  • shape memory polymer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Biofilm Removal by Reversible Shape Recovery of the Substrate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this