Adsorption behaviour of bottle-brush and block copolymers at solid-liquid interfaces

Sammanfattning: This thesis was spurred on by needs of current scientific and technological developments in the area of surface modification by use of adsorbed polymer layers. The importance of surface properties of polymer layers can be imparted in a broad spectrum of interfacial-related applications like lubrication, colloidal stability, detergency, and protein resistant surfaces, to just mention a few. Irrespective of all areas of application an underlying factor in all is the deep implication and footprint the molecular architecture has on the interfacial properties of polymer layers. In this context this thesis has the intention of raising awareness of the importance of the polymer architecture on interfacial behavior and the stability of layers formed by bottle-brush polymers and by temperature responsive block copolymers under different conditions. The first part of this thesis work was largely devoted to the surface properties of a series of cationic bottle-brush polymers, consisting of a main chain carrying charges and poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) side chains close to randomly distributed along the backbone. Here particular attention was devoted to varying the molecular architecture by changing the charge/PEO ratio along the backbone. The studies demonstrated that the surface excess of the polymers went through a maximum as the number of backbone charges increased. Furthermore, the bottle-brush adlayers revealed sensitivity to changes in both ionic strength and pH when the numbers of backbone charges were relatively low. Layer properties were comprehensively elucidated by determining not only the adsorbed mass, but also layer thickness, water content and layer viscoelasticity. The change in these properties during formation of the adsorption layer was found to be complex, demonstrating significant conformational changes in the layer. The studies aimed at creating surface coatings with good resistance against species of high surface affinity, with a central interest in proteins, elucidated the optimal balance of the bottle-brush structure. The results revealed two scenarios, depending on both the type of protein and the areal density (grafting density) of the PEO side chains at the silica surface, where either protein adsorption was suppressed or enhanced by the presence of adlayers of the bottle-brush polymers. Low protein adsorption was achieved when the polymers have enough electrostatic attachment points to ensure a strong binding to the surface and at the same time a sufficient amount of PEO side chains that screen the protein-surface interactions. In the second part of the thesis a combination of QCM-D, AFM and reflectometry techniques was employed to probe the interfacial characteristics of temperature responsive cationic diblock copolymers, poly(N-ivisopropylacrylamide)m-block-poly(3-acrylamidopropyl)trimethyl ammonium chloride)n. The adsorption of these polymers to silica was of a high affinity, with no dramatic structural changes occurring during the layer build-up. The temperature dependent behavior of the adlayers demonstrated that the polymer interfacial conformation could be reversibly altered merely by cycling temperature above and below the lower critical solution temperature (LCST). This was found to have significant effects on both surface forces and boundary lubrication.

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