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Noninvasive Biofilm Characterization Using Acoustic Microscopy

Salahuddin Ahmed and Jeff McLean, Principal Investigators

3D -Topographical Display of Biofilm Surface
Three-dimensional topographic display of a biofilm surface. The data to construct this image was acquired using a scanning acoustic microscope.

Methods to noninvasively interrogate and characterize biofilm-environment interactions in real-time is vitally important to biofilm research. Researchers working on Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s (PNNL’s) Noninvasive Biofilm Characterization Using Acoustic Microscopy project are developing and demonstrating acoustic microscopy-based capabilities to better understand community structure and dynamic, space-time processes in three-dimensional, heterogeneous, living biofilms. As part of this project, our research team is:

  • demonstrating the use of acoustic microscopy to differentiate wild-type and mutant strains of Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 that differ in community architecture
  • completing the second development phase of enhanced acoustic microscopy hardware tools as well as analytical and software tools that provide biofilm structural characteristics, including surface topology, thickness, density, biomass, and structural mapping inside biofilms
  • developing an ultrasonic methodology to detect and quantify biofilm-induced corrosion on metal substrates
  • developing an ultrasonic methodology to discriminate between cells and extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) and to discern biofilm structure using ultrasonic contrast agents.

The insights gained from this project will benefit environmental quality and human health.

Systems Biology at PNNL

Research & Capabilities


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