Scratching the Surface : How Decisive Are Microscopic Surface Structures on Growth and Performance of Electrochemically Active Bacteria?
This study elucidates the role of micrometer-scale electrode surface structures on the growth and the electrochemical performance of mixed culture electrochemically active biofilms (EAB). For this purpose, copper electrodes were machined to generate micro-scale surface structures (roughness and waviness) ranging from a few μm to over 100μm, which were characterized using confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). The structured electrodes were used to cultivate acetate based, mixed culture, anodic EAB in order to establish relationships between the surface properties and (i) the growth behavior and (ii) the stationary electrocatalytic properties of the resulting EAB. On short time scale, the initial growth phase is shown to be significantly influenced behavior by the surface topology. The long term electrocatalytic biofilm performance, however, does not show any dependence on the surface structures and does thus not profit from the increased specific surface area and micro-scale surface area due to the increasing 3-dimensionality. The results of this study are of great importance for a more systematic development of tailored electrodes for microbial electrochemical technologies.