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Design and Physicochemical Characterization of Polyelectrolyte Brushes

Atsushi Takahara Institute for Materials Chemistry and Engineering, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan

Since surfaces and interfaces of soft materials play an important role in various technological applications, precise control of soft interfaces would greatly promote the innovation of materials science and technology. Polyelectrolytes show unique functionality at various soft interfaces. In this study, high-density polyelectrolyte brushes were prepared on Si-wafer and various substrates by surface-initiated controlled radical polymerization. Chain conformation at liquid/solid liquid/solid interface was characterized by neutron reflectivity. Super hydrophilicity, antifouling behavior, low friction behavior, and intelligent adhesion were axhieved by polyelectrolyte brushes.
For example, poly(methacrylate) brushes bearing sulfonate and phosphocholine groups at the side chains showed an extremely low friction coefficient under aqueous media, and also repelled both of air bubble and hexadecane droplet in water. These properties can be applied to self-cleaning, antifogging, and antifouling system. Positively charged ammonium-type polymer brush and negatively charged polysulfonate brush were strongly adhered each other due to electrostatic interaction and easily debonded in aqueous NaCl solution. Repeatable adhesion was achieved using oppositely charged polyelectrolyte brushes.