Effect of colloidal substrate curvature on pH-responsive polyelectrolyte brush growth

Benjamin T. Cheesman, Alexander J G Neilson, Joshua D. Willott, Grant B. Webber, Steve Edmondson, Erica J. Wanless*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Coatings consisting of polymer brushes are an effective way to modify solid interfaces. Polymer brush-modified hybrid particles have been prepared by surface-initiated activators regenerated by electron transfer atom transfer radical polymerization (SI-ARGET ATRP) of 2-(diethylamino)ethyl methacrylate (DEA) on silica particles. We have optimized the synthesis with respect to changing the reducing agent, temperature, and reaction solvent from an aqueous ethanol mixture to an aqueous methanol mixture. Our flexible electrostatically adsorbed macroinitiator approach allows for the modification of a variety of surfaces. Polybasic brushes have been grown on silica particles of different sizes, from 120 to 840 nm in diameter, as well as on wafers, and a comparison of the products has allowed the effect of surface curvature to be elucidated. An examination of the thickness of the dry brush and the aqueous hydrodynamic brush at both pH 7 and at 4 demonstrated that growth increased substantially with substrate curvature for particles with a diameter below 450 nm. This is attributed to the increasing separation between active chain ends, reducing the rate of termination. This is believed to be the first time that this effect has been demonstrated experimentally. Furthermore, we have seen that polymer brush growth on planar wafers was significantly reduced when the reaction mixture was stirred.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6131-6140
Number of pages10
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2013
Externally publishedYes

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