Detecting Escherichia coli Biofilm Development Stages on Gold and Titanium by Quartz Crystal Microbalance

Rosa Ripa, Amy Q. Shen, Riccardo Funari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Bacterial biofilms are responsible for persistent infections and biofouling, raising serious concerns in both medical and industrial processes. These motivations underpin the need to develop methodologies to study the complex biological structures of biofilms and prevent their formation on medical implants, tools, and industrial apparatuses. Here, we report the detailed comparison of Escherichia coli biofilm development stages (adhesion, maturation, and dispersion) on gold and titanium surfaces by monitoring the changes in both frequency and dissipation of a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) device, a cheap and reliable microgravimetric sensor which allows the real-time and label-free characterization of various stages of biofilm development. Although gold is the most common electrode material used for QCM sensors, the titanium electrode is also readily available for QCM sensors; thus, QCM sensors with different metal electrodes serve as a simple platform to probe how pathogens interact with different metal substrates. The QCM outcomes are further confirmed by atomic force microscopy and crystal violet staining, thus validating the effectiveness of this surface sensitive sensor for microbial biofilm research. Moreover, because QCM technology can easily modify the substrate types and coatings, QCM sensors also provide well-controlled experimental conditions to study antimicrobial surface treatments and eradication procedures, even on mature biofilms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2295-2302
Number of pages8
JournalACS Omega
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 11 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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