Postprint version. Published in Biofouling, Volume 22, Issue 1, January 1, 2006, pages 1-9.
Silicone coatings are currently the most effective non-toxic fouling release surfaces. Understanding the mechanisms that contribute to the performance of silicone coatings is necessary to further improve their design. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of coating thickness on basal plate morphology, growth, and critical removal stress of the barnacle Balanus amphitrite. Barnacles were grown on silicone coatings of three thicknesses (0.2, 0.5 and 2 mm). Atypical (“cupped”) basal plate morphology was observed on all surfaces, although there was no relationship between coating thickness and i) the proportion of individuals with the atypical morphology, or ii) the growth rate of individuals. Critical removal stress was inversely proportional to coating thickness. Furthermore, individuals with atypical basal plate morphology had a significantly lower critical removal stress than individuals with the typical (“flat”) morphology. The data demonstrate that coating thickness is a fundamental factor governing removal of barnacles from silicone coatings.