Formation and properties of surface-anchored polymer assemblies with tunable physico-chemical characteristics

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Title: Formation and properties of surface-anchored polymer assemblies with tunable physico-chemical characteristics
Author: Wu, Tao
Advisors: Christine S. Grant, Committee Member
Jan Genzer, Committee Chair
Christopher B. Gorman, Committee Member
Richard J. Spontak, Committee Member
Saad A. Khan, Committee Member
Abstract: We describe two new methodologies leading to the formation of novel surface-anchored polymer assemblies on solid substrates. While the main goal is to understand the fundamentals pertaining to the preparation and properties of the surface-bound polymer assemblies (including neutral and chargeable polymers), several examples also are mentioned throughout the Thesis that point out to practical applications of such structures. The first method is based on generating assemblies comprising anchored polymers with a gradual variation of grafting densities on solid substrates. These structures are prepared by first covering the substrate with a molecular gradient of the polymerization initiator, followed by polymerization from these substrate-bound initiator centers ("grafting from"). We apply this technique to prepare grafting density gradients of poly(acryl amide) (PAAm) and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) on silica-covered substrates. We show that using the grafting density gradient geometry, the characteristics of surface-anchored polymers in both the low grafting density ("mushroom") regime as well as the high grafting density ("brush") regime can be accessed conveniently on a single sample. We use a battery of experimental methods, including Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), Near-edge absorption fine structure spectroscopy (NEXAFS), contact angle, ellipsometry, to study the characteristics of the surface-bound polymer layers. We also probe the scaling laws of neutral polymer as a function of grafting density, and for weak polyelectrolyte, in addition to the grafting density, we study the affect of solution ionic strength and pH values. In the second novel method, which we coined as "mechanically assisted polymer assembly" (MAPA), we form surface anchored polymers by "grafting from" polymerization initiators deposited on elastic surfaces that have been previously extended uniaxially by a certain length increment, Λx. Upon releasing the strain in the substrate after completion of polymerization, we show the grafting density of the polymers grafted to flexible substrates can be tuned as a function of Λx.
Date: 2003-06-16
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Chemical Engineering

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