Rechargeable biofilm-controlling tubing materials for use in dental unit water lines

Jie Luo, Nuala Porteous, Yuyu Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


A simple and practical surface grafting approach was developed to introduce rechargeable N-halamine-based antimicrobial functionality onto the inner surfaces of continuous small-bore polyurethane (PU) dental unit waterline (DUWL) tubing. In this approach, tetrahydrofuran (THF) solution of a free-radical initiator, dicumyl peroxide (DCP), flowed through the PU tubing (inner diameter of 1/16 in., or 1.6 mm) to diffuse DCP into the tubings inner walls, which was used as initiator in the subsequent grafting polymerization of methacrylamide (MAA) onto the tubing. Upon chlorine bleach treatment, the amide groups of the grafted MAA side chains were transformed into acyclic N-halamines. The reactions were confirmed with attenuated total reflectance infrared (ATR) spectra and iodometric titration. The mechanical properties of the tubing were not significantly affected by the grafting reactions. The biofilm-controlling function of the new N-halamine-based PU tubing was evaluated with Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa), one of the most isolated water bacteria from DUWLs, in a continuous bacterial flow model. Bacteria culturing and SEM studies showed that the inner surfaces of the new N-halamine-based PU tubing completely prevented bacterial biofilm formation for at least three to four weeks. After that, bacteria began to colonize the tubing surface. However, the lost function was fully regenerated by exposing the tubing inner surfaces to diluted chlorine bleach. The recharging process could be repeated periodically to further extend the biofilm-controlling duration for long-term applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2895-2902
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 24 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • N-halamine
  • biofilm-controlling
  • polyurethane
  • rechargeable
  • surface grafting
  • tubing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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