The dynamic relationship between the settlement behaviour of marine biota (cells, spores, larvae) and the longevity of an entrapped air layer (plastron) on submersed superhydrophobic surfaces was systematically investigated. Plastron lifetime decreased with increasing hydrophobic polymer loadings, and was correlated with the settlement rate of a range of fouling species of varying length scale, motility and hydrophobic/hydrophilic surface preference. The results show that the level of fouling on immersed superhydrophobic surfaces was greater when plastron lifetimes were minimal, regardless of the length scale, motility and the surface preference of the organisms. This is the first direct demonstration of the broad-spectrum attachment-inhibiting properties of a plastron on an immersed superhydrophobic surface.
Keywords: air-layer; antifouling; attachment-inhibition; biofouling; plastron; superhydrophobic.