Enrichment of charged monomers explains non-monotonic polymer volume fraction profiles of multi-stimulus responsive copolymer brushes

Edwin C. Johnson, Joshua D. Willott, Isaac J. Gresham, Timothy J. Murdoch, Ben A. Humphreys, Stuart W. Prescott, Andrew Nelson, Wiebe M. de Vos, Grant B. Webber, Erica J. Wanless*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Multi-stimulus responsive poly(2-(2methoxyethoxy)ethyl methacrylate-co-2-(diethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) [P(MEO2MA-co-DEA)] 80:20 mol % copolymer brushes were synthesized on planar silica substrates via surface-initiated activators continuously regenerated via electron transfer atom transfer radical polymerization. Brush thickness was sensitive to changes in pH and temperature as monitored with ellipsometry. At low pH, the brush is charged and swollen, while at high pH, the brush is uncharged and more collapsed. Clear thermoresponsive behavior is also observed with the brush more swollen at low temperatures compared to high temperatures at both high and low pH. Neutron reflectometry was used to determine the polymer volume fraction profiles (VFPs) at various pH values and temperatures. A region of lower polymer content, or a depletion region, near the substrate is present in all of the experimental polymer VFPs, and it is more pronounced at low pH (high charge) and less so at high pH (low charge). Polymer VFPs calculated through numerical self-consistent field theory suggest that enrichment of DEA monomers near the substrate results in the experimentally observed non-monotonic VFPs. Adsorption of DEA monomers to the substrate prior to initiation of polymerization could give rise to DEA segment-enriched region proximal to the substrate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12460-12472
Number of pages13
JournalLangmuir
Volume36
Issue number42
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2020

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