Polyester Brush Coatings for Circularity: Grafting, Degradation, and Repeated Growth

Maria Brió Pérez, Mark A. Hempenius, Sissi de Beer, Frederik R. Wurm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Polymer brushes are widely used as versatile surface modifications. However, most of them are designed to be long-lasting by using nonbiodegradable materials. This generates additional plastic waste and hinders the reusability of substrates. To address this, we present a synthetic strategy for grafting degradable polymer brushes via organocatalytic surface-initiated ring-opening polymerization (SI-ROP) from stable PGMA-based macroinitiators. This yields polyester brush coatings (up to 50 nm in thickness) that hydrolyze with controlled patterns and can be regrown on the same substrate after degradation. We chose polyesters of different hydrolytic stability and degradation mechanism, i.e., poly(lactic acid) (PLA), polycaprolactone (PCL), and polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), which are grown from poly(glycidyl methacrylate) (PGMA)-based macroinitiators for strong surface binding and initiating site reuse. Brush degradation is monitored via thickness changes in pH-varied buffer solutions and seawater with PHB brushes showing rapid degradation in all solutions. PLA and PCL brushes show higher stability in solutions of up to pH 8, while all coatings fully degrade after 14 days in seawater. These brushes offer surface modifications with well-defined degradation patterns that can be regrown after degradation, making them an interesting alternative to (meth)acrylate-based, nondegradable polymers brushes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8856–8865
Number of pages10
Issue number21
Early online date19 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2023


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