Regeneration of antifouling polymer surfaces after contamination or damage is an important issue, especially in complex marine environments. Here, inspired by the self-renewal of silyl acrylate polymers and the protein resistance of zwitterionic polymers, we prepared a novel hydrolysis-induced zwitterionic monomer, tertiary carboxybetaine triisopropylsilyl ester ethyl acrylate (TCBSA), and copolymerized it with methyl methacrylate (MMA). Such a copolymer rapidly self-generates a zwitterionic surface and provides fouling resistance in marine environments. Furthermore, TCBSA was copolymerized with MMA and 2-methylene-1,3-dioxepane (MDO), where MDO causes degradation of the polymers. Our study demonstrates that the degradation of the polymer is controlled, and the degradation rate increases with the external enzyme concentration in the seawater, leading to a self-renewing dynamic surface. Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation measurements show that the polymeric coating with self-generating zwitterions has excellent protein resistance in seawater. Bioassays demonstrate that the coating can effectively inhibit the adhesion of marine bacteria (Pseudomonas sp.) and diatoms (Navicula incerta). The coating with a self-generating and self-renewing zwitterionic surface is potential to find applications in marine anti-biofouling.
Keywords: antifouling coating; degradable polymer; protein resistance; radical ring-opening polymerization; zwitterionic surface.