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Polymer brushes: conformation and adhesion

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Polymers attached to surfaces (brushes) present a useful means of compatibilisation between organic and inorganic surfaces. However the conformation of polymer brushes represent an interesting problem in polymer physics and is not wholly understood. Older work on the structure of polystyrene grafted onto a silicon surface interdigitating into a polystyrene network matrix will be used to introduce the subject, before moving onto the more complex problem of polyelectrolyte brushes in an aqueous environment. The polyelectrolyte brushes are synthesised by atom transfer radical polymerization, which enables the creation of rather dense brush layers. Despite being dense, it is observed that polybase brushes of poly[(diethyl amino)ethyl methacrylate] form an unexpected ‘mushroom’ conformation in acid solution. The interaction of polyelectrolyte brushes with polyelectrolyte networks is an interesting combination as it creates the possibility of reversible adhesion, and early results to this end will be presented.

This talk is part of the Optoelectronics Group series.

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