Zinc Oxide Nano-Spicules on Polylactic Acid for Super-Hydrophilic and Bactericidal Surfaces

Bum Chul Park, Sang Won Byun, Youngjun Ju, Dae Beom Lee, Ji Beom Shin, Kyung Min Yeon, Yu Jin Kim, Prashant Sharma, Nam Hyuk Cho, Jungbae Kim, Young Keun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The artificial construction of nature-mimic inorganic–organic heterostructures is an emerging technological interest for protective surface applications. Mimicking the spikiness of sea urchin spicules for their protective function, here, the synthesis of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanometer-scale spicules grown from micrometer-scale polylactic acid (PLA) beads and fibers as super-hydrophilic and bactericidal surfaces is reported. The thermodynamic mechanism behind the interfacial assembly of pre-entrapped ZnO nanoparticles right at the PLA–water interfaces above the glass transition temperature of PLA, allowing for the follow-up growth of nano-spicules on the PLA templates is uncovered. This sea urchin-like topography of ZnO nano-spicules induces super-hydrophilicity while generating reactive oxygen species as well as allowing the stabbing action of nano-spicules. All of the above help enhance the bactericidal activity against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria in an unprecedentedly effective way. The findings conceptualize a new strategy to spontaneously assemble nanoparticles at the polymer–liquid interfaces, enabling various heterostructures with topography-induced functions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2100844
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sept 2

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
B.C.P., S.W.B., and Y.J. contributed equally to this work. This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (2019R1A2C3006587, 2019R1I1A1A01062020, 2021R1A2C1014632, 2020R1A2C3009649, and 2014K1A1A2043032). The authors would like to thank Se Ji Yoon for her assistance with the measurement of ROS generation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • bactericidal surfaces
  • biomimetics
  • inorganic–organic heterostructures
  • interfacial assembly
  • super-hydrophilicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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