Biofilms formed from the adhesion of microbes to a surface hold great relevance to public health and wastewater management. However, the physical principles underlying the attachment stage of biofilm formation, when individual microbes first come into contact with a substrate, are not well understood. Here I report on a model of colloidal particle attachment to a surface that incorporates the effects of diffusion, advection, gravity, and the hydrodynamic lift and drag forces experienced by polystyrene beads at low Reynold’s number. The simulation predicts attachment rates of 1.04x10^(-8)m/s, 0.73x10^(-8)m/s, and 1.29x10^(-8)m/s for beads of radius 0.25 µm, 0.55 µm, and 0.90 µm, respectively. Comparison to experimental data demonstrates that the calculated attachment rates approximate the observed rates, but that they tend to underestimate the experimental observations. The model could be further improved by the addition of other forces influencing particle deposition in a fluid environment.
"Physical Principles Governing Colloidal Particle Deposition at Low Reynold’s Number: Applications to Microbial Biofilms,"
Macalester Journal of Physics and Astronomy: Vol. 5
, Article 9.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.macalester.edu/mjpa/vol5/iss1/9