Bacterial responses to periodic micropillar array

Xiang Ge*, Yang Leng, Xiong Lu, Fuzeng Ren, Kefeng Wang, Ding Yonghui, Meng Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


For a basic understanding and potential biomedical applications of surface topographical effects on bacterial responses, this study focuses on not only the bacterial retention but also the bacterial growth, proliferation, and viability that are significant post-retentive behaviors playing critical roles in infections of medical implants. Specifically, periodic micropillar arrays (SiPA) with nine different feature sizes were fabricated on silicon substrates with photolithography and dry etching methods. The SiPA was cultured with Staphylococcus aureus or Escherichia coli for different periods to investigate the bacterial retention, growth and proliferation behavior on a patterned surface. The experimental results show that a significant reduction of bacterial retention, growth, and proliferation can be achieved when the pillar size is reduced to the submicrometer level. However, micropillars have no obvious influence on the viability of the bacteria within 24 h. On the basis of the bacterial experiment results, it is inferred that the topographical effects may have resulted from bacterial confinement by micropillars, either limiting the attachment area for individual bacterium or trapping a bacterium between pillars. Furthermore, the extended Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek theoretical analysis indicates the effects might have come from the topographic induced surface property changes, mainly hydrophobicity, which is represented by the changes in the interaction free energy of Lifshitz-van der Waals among different periodic micropillar arrays. This study could help to deepen the understanding about the surface topographical effects on bacterial responses and may provide a guidance for the future medical implant surface design to decrease the infection risk by avoiding the surface topography which could attract more bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-396
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • bacterial retention
  • extended DLVO theory
  • growth
  • micropatterned surface
  • proliferation
  • viability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys

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