Changes in the surface properties of some silicone elastomers (General Electric RTV11, RTV160 and RTV655) and fluorosilicones (-(Si(CH3)((CH2)3- O(CH2)2(CF2)xCF3)-O)n-, x = 5,7,9) on prolonged immersion in water (distilled water, artificial seawater, filtered and unfiltered seawater) have been investigated using measurements of advancing and receding contact angles, of surface roughness and of water uptake. Considerable increases in hydrophilicity and surface rugosity are attributed mainly to surface structural rearrangements accompanying absorption of water; these effects are greater for the fluorosilicones and the rugosity of RTV160 also increased considerably. Observations of early marine settlement (up to 16 weeks in flowing seawater), visualised by scanning electron microscopy, showed patchy attachment mainly of bacteria and microalgae while mature biofilms were formed on the poly(methylmethacrylate) controls. Although settlement was least on RTV11 and greatest on the fluorosilicones, the range of variation was small relative to the differences in the long-term fouling resistance of the materials: The design requirements for fouling resistance of a smooth, soft, uniform surface are supported.
- Silicone elastomers