With new advances in infectious disease, antifouling surfaces, and environmental microbiology research comes the need to understand and control the accumulation and attachment of bacterial cells on a surface. Thus, we employ intrinsic phase-shift reflectometric interference spectroscopic measurements of silicon diffraction gratings to non-destructively observe the interactions between bacterial cells and abiotic, microstructured surfaces in a label-free and real-time manner. We conclude that the combination of specific material characteristics (i.e., substrate surface charge and topology) and characteristics of the bacterial cells (i.e., motility, cell charge, biofilm formation, and physiology) drive bacteria to adhere to a particular surface, often leading to a biofilm formation. Such knowledge can be exploited to predict antibiotic efficacy and biofilm formation, and enhance surface-based biosensor development, as well as the design of anti-biofouling strategies.
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