Solvated polymer brushes are well known to lubricate high-pressure contacts, because they can sustain a positive normal load while maintaining low friction at the interface. Nevertheless, these systems can be sensitive to wear due to interdigitation of the opposing brushes. In a recent publication, we have shown via molecular dynamics simulations and atomic force microscopy experiments, that using an immiscible polymer brush system terminating the substrate and the slider surfaces, respectively, can eliminate such interdigitation. As a consequence, wear in the contacts is reduced. Moreover, the friction force is two orders of magnitude lower compared to traditional miscible polymer brush systems. This newly proposed system therefore holds great potential for application in industry. Here, the methodology to construct an immiscible polymer brush system of two different brushes each solvated by their own preferred solvent is presented. The procedure how to graft poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) from a flat surface and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) from an atomic force microscopy (AFM) colloidal probe is described. PNIPAM is solvated in water and PMMA in acetophenone. Via friction force AFM measurements, it is shown that the friction for this system is indeed reduced by two orders of magnitude compared to the miscible system of PMMA on PMMA solvated in acetophenone.
- Atomic force microscopy
- Colloid probe
- Colloid probe chemical modification
- Issue 94
- Molecular dynamics
- Polymer brush
- Surface initiated atom-transfer radical polymerization