pH-dependent control of particle motion through surface interactions with patterned polymer brush surfaces

Langmuir. 2012 Sep 11;28(36):12955-61. doi: 10.1021/la302384j. Epub 2012 Aug 27.


In this Article, we show that inclined silicon surfaces patterned with poly(methacrylic acid) brushes are able to control the position and movement of 20 μm silica particles, which are propelled across the patterned surface by sedimentation forces. Three different types of behavior were observed depending on the angle between the direction in which a particle sedimented and the orientation of the polymer-brush silicon interface. At small angles, particles were found to sediment to the brush interface and then sediment following the direction of the brush interface. At larger angles, particles sedimented to the interface and then followed the direction of the brush interface, but then after a certain distance changed direction to pass over the interface. At the largest angles where the brush interface was approximately perpendicular to the motion of the particle, particles were found to travel over the interface unperturbed. This behavior was also found to be pH dependent, allowing the formation of pH responsive "gates", which allow particles to pass at low pH but not at high pH. It was also found that if patterned polymer brush surfaces were oriented in the correct way, they were able to control the number of particles present at specific locations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Motion
  • Particle Size
  • Polymethacrylic Acids / chemistry*
  • Silicon Dioxide / chemistry*
  • Surface Properties


  • Polymethacrylic Acids
  • polymethacrylic acid
  • Silicon Dioxide