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Materials Frontier No.194

Title: Transforming surface properties with polymers

Speaker: Prof. Nicholas D. Spencer, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Date/Time: 2017-9-12, 10:00am

Venue: 308, XU Zuyao Building

Inviter:Jia Pei


  Surface properties of materials, such as their wettability, their biocompatibility, or their lubricity, can be readily tailored by polymers. While growing polymers out of surfaces (“grafting from”) is a flexible approach to achieving polymer coatings, and invaluable for fundamental studies, it is rarely feasible for applications. “Grafting to”  is a much more practical approach, but requires that the adsorbing molecules a) firmly adhere to the surface(s),  b) remain on the surface in the presence of adverse conditions (e.g of ionic strength or pH) and also possibly c) adopt the desired configuration in the presence of a solvent. While the simplest approach, namely the electrostatic interaction of a backbone grafted with the polymer of choice, has been used in our laboratories for a decade and a half, it suffers from a number of drawbacks, including high sensitivity to variations in pH and ionic strength, and a susceptibility to removal by detergents. Recent advances focus on flexibility with regard to polymer choice, covalent-bond formation to enhance stability, and ease of applications.

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