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Achieving Microparticles with Cell-Instructive Surface Chemistry by Using Tunable Co-Polymer Surfactants


Valentina Cuzzucoli Crucitti

Simon Haas

Arsalan Latif

Manuel Romero

Olutoba Sanni

Professor of Molecular Microbiology

Professor of Multiphase Flow and Mechanics

Professor of Materials Chemistry


© 2020 The Authors. Published by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim A flow-focusing microfluidic device is used to produce functionalized monodisperse polymer particles with surface chemistries designed to control bacterial biofilm formation. This is achieved by using molecularly designed bespoke surfactants synthesized via catalytic chain transfer polymerization. This novel approach of using polymeric surfactants, often called surfmers, containing a biofunctional moiety contrasts with the more commonly employed emulsion methods. Typically, the surface chemistry of microparticles are dominated by unwanted surfactants that dilute/mask the desired surface response. Time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) analysis of particles demonstrates that the comb-graft surfactant is located on the particle surface. Biofilm experiments show how specifically engineered surface chemistries, generated by the surfactants, successfully modulate bacterial attachment to both polymer films, and microparticles. Thus, this paper outlines how the use of designed polymeric surfactants and droplet microfluidics can exert control over both the surface chemistry and size distribution of microparticle materials, demonstrating their critical importance for controlling surface-cell response.


Dundas, A. A., Cuzzucoli Crucitti, V., Haas, S., Dubern, J., Latif, A., Romero, M., …Irvine, D. J. (2020). Achieving Microparticles with Cell-Instructive Surface Chemistry by Using Tunable Co-Polymer Surfactants. Advanced Functional Materials, 30(36),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 8, 2020
Online Publication Date Jun 25, 2020
Publication Date Sep 3, 2020
Deposit Date Jul 1, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jul 2, 2020
Journal Advanced Functional Materials
Print ISSN 1616-301X
Electronic ISSN 1616-3028
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 36
Article Number 2001821
Keywords Biofilm Prevention, Catalytic Chain Transfer Polymerisation, Comb-graft Polymers, Droplet Microfluidics, ToF-SIMS
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Additional Information Received: 2020-02-26; Published: 2020-06-25