Behavior of surface-anchored poly(acrylic acid) brushes with grafting density gradients on solid substrates: 1. Experiment

Tao Wu, Peng Gong, Igal Szleifer, Petr Vlček, Vladimír Šubr, Jan Genzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

210 Scopus citations

Abstract

We describe experiments pertaining to the formation of surface-anchored poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) brushes with a gradual variation of the PAA grafting densities on flat surfaces and provide detailed analysis of their properties. The PAA brush gradients are generated by first covering the substrate with a molecular gradient of the polymerization initiator, followed by the "grafting from" polymerization of tert-butyl acrylate (tBA) from these substrate-bound initiator centers, and finally converting the PtBA into PAA. We use spectroscopic ellipsometry to measure the wet thickness of the grafted PAA chains in aqueous solutions at three different pH values (4, 5.8, and 10) and a series of ionic strengths (IS). Our measurements reveal that at low grafting densities, σ, the wet thickness of the PAA brush (H) remains relatively constant, the polymers are in the mushroom regime. Beyond a certain value of σ, the macromolecules enter the brush regime, where H increases with increasing σ. For a given σ, H exhibits a nonmonotonic behavior as a function of the IS. At large IS, the H is small because the charges along PAA are completely screened by the excess of the external salt. As IS decreases, the PAA enters the so-called salt brush (SB) regime, where H increases. At a certain value of IS, H reaches a maximum and then decreases again. The latter is a typical brush behavior in so-called osmotic brush (OB) regime. We provide detailed discussion of the behavior of the grafted PAA chains in the SB and OB regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8756-8764
Number of pages9
JournalMacromolecules
Volume40
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 27 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry

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