Wettability and antifouling behavior on the surfaces of superhydrophilic polymer brushes

Langmuir. 2012 May 8;28(18):7212-22. doi: 10.1021/la301033h. Epub 2012 Apr 26.

Abstract

The surface wettabilities of polymer brushes with hydrophobic and hydrophilic functional groups were discussed on the basis of conventional static and dynamic contact angle measurements of water and hexadecane in air and captive bubble measurements in water. Various types of high-density polymer brushes with nonionic and ionic functional groups were prepared on a silicon wafer by surface-initiated atom-transfer radical polymerization. The surface free energies of the brushes were estimated by Owens-Wendt equation using the contact angles of various probe liquids with different polarities. The decrease in the water contact angle corresponded to the polarity of fluoroalkyl, hydroxy, ethylene oxide, amino, carboxylic acid, ammonium salt, sulfonate, carboxybetaine, sulfobetaine, and phosphobetaine functional groups. The poly(2-perfluorooctylethyl acrylate) brush had a low surface free energy of approximately 8.7 mN/m, but the polyelectrolyte brushes revealed much higher surface free energies of 70-74 mN/m, close to the value for water. Polyelectrolyte brushes repelled both air bubbles and hexadecane in water. Even when the silicone oil was spread on the polyelectrolyte brush surfaces in air, once they were immersed in water, the oil quickly rolled up and detached from the brush surface. The oil detachment behavior observed on the superhydrophilic polyelectrolyte brush in water was explained by the low adhesion force between the brush and the oil, which could contribute to its excellent antifouling and self-cleaning properties.

MeSH terms

  • Alkanes / chemistry
  • Biofouling / prevention & control*
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Particle Size
  • Polymers / chemical synthesis
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Surface Properties
  • Water / chemistry
  • Wettability

Substances

  • Alkanes
  • Polymers
  • Water
  • n-hexadecane