Nonfouling textiles with tunable antimicrobial activity based on a zwitterionic polyamine finish
Antimicrobial finishes for textiles and other surfaces that act without the release of biocides to the environment (contact biocides) or by inhibiting microbial adhesion (antifouling action) are viewed as promising and environmentally friendly alternatives to current products. We have used polyvinylamine polymers that were functionalized with zwitterionic sulfobetaine side chains with different degrees of substitution (DS) for the finishing of poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) and cotton fabrics in a water-based pad-dry-cure process. After washing with different surfactants, a stable finish with total polymer add-ons of 0.2–0.5 wt% was achieved. The finished textiles efficiently inhibited the adhesion of proteins and bacteria to the surface even with a small DS as low as 20%. Textiles finished with polymers with a low DS also showed significant antibacterial activity, most notably against Staphylococcus aureus. Accordingly, textile finishes with either pure antiadhesive (DS > 50%) or combined antiadhesive and antibacterial properties (DS = 20–50%) are accessible using this approach.