Biomimetic and bioinspired surface topographies as a green strategy for combating biofouling: A review

Andre Eccel vellwock, Haimin Yao

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Biofouling refers to the adverse attachment and colonization of fouling organisms, including macromolecules, bacteria, and sessile invertebrates, on the surfaces of materials submerged in aquatic environments. Almost all structures working in watery surroundings, from marine infrastructures to healthcare facilities, are affected by this sticky problem, resulting in massive direct and indirect economic loss and enormous cost every year in protective maintenance and remedial cleaning. Traditional approaches to preventing marine biofouling primarily rely on the application of biocide-contained paints, which certainly impose adverse effects on the ocean environment and marine ecology. Biomimicry offers an efficient shortcut to developing environmentally friendly antifouling techniques and has yielded encouraging and promising results. The antifouling strategies learned from nature can be broadly classified into two categories according to the nature of the cues applied for biofouling control. One is the chemical antifouling techniques, which are dedicated to extracting the effective antifoulant compounds from marine organisms and synthesizing chemicals mimicking natural antifoulants. In contrast, the physical biomimetic (BM) antifouling practices focus on the emulation and optimization of the physical cues such as micro and nanoscale surface topographies learned from naturally occurring surfaces for better antifouling efficacy. In this review, a synopsis of the techniques for manufacturing the BM and bioinspired (BI) antifouling surface topographies is introduced, followed by the bioassay to assess the antifouling performance of the structured surfaces. Then, the BM and BI surface topographies that were reported to possess enhanced antifouling competence are introduced, followed by a summary of theoretical modeling. The whole paper is concluded by summarizing the studies' deficiencies so far and outlooking the research directions in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number041003
JournalBioinspiration and Biomimetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Biofouling
  • Bioinspiration
  • Biomimetics
  • Surface topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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