Electrolyte Jet Machining (EJM) has been performed on stainless steel surfaces with the aim of reducing bacterial retention through the generation of nanoscale surface morphology. Following initial EJM experiments aimed at investigating the influence of machining depth, machining speed and current density on the resulting surface roughness, three characteristic surfaces were produced with a current density of 10–18 A/cm2 and a machining speed of 0.8–8 mm/s to obtain an arithmetic mean height (Sa) of 0.5–0.74 μm and a density of peaks (Spd) of 0.25–1.26 μm−1. Relatively large differences between the three surfaces in terms of Spd allowed thorough investigation into the effects of surface feature size on bacterial retention to be performed. Reductions in the order of 90% compared to control samples were achieved for gram-positive Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus across the entire tested parameter range (Spd = 0.25–1.26 μm−1), while reductions in the order of 99% were achieved for gram-negative Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa for surfaces characterized by Spd > 1 μm−1. Not only do the results call attention to EJM as an innovative technology for producing antibacterial surfaces, they also highlight important differences in the behavior of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria in relation to EJM-textured surfaces with nanoscale surface morphology.
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