Surface modification with polymer grafting is a versatile tool for tuning the surface properties of a wide variety of materials. From a practical point of view, such a process should be readily scalable and transferable between different substrates and consist of as least number of steps as possible. To this end, a cross-linkable amphiphilic copolymer system that is able to bind covalently to surfaces and form permanently attached networks via a one-step procedure is reported here. This system consists of brushlike copolymers (molecular brushes) made of glycidyl methacrylate, poly(oligo(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate), and lauryl methacrylate, which provide the final product with tunable reactivity and balance between hydrophilicity and hydrophobicity. The detailed study of the copolymer synthesis and properties has been carried out to establish the most efficient pathway to design and tailor this amphiphilic molecular brush system for specific applications. As an example of the applications, we showed the ability to control the deposition of graphene oxide (GO) sheets on both hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfaces using GO modified with the molecular brushes. Also, the capability to tune the osteoblast cell adhesion with the copolymer-based coatings was demonstrated.
Keywords: biomedical applications; functional coatings; graphene modification; molecular brushes; surface modification.