Robust grafting of PEG-methacrylate brushes from polymeric coatings

28 November 2019

A study is presented of the grafting of poly(ethylene glycol)methyl ether methacrylate (PEGMA) from polymeric macroinitiator films to form well-defined polymer brushes, using activators generated/regenerated by electron transfer (AGET/ARGET) atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). Polymer brush coatings can potentially be obtained on surfaces of virtually any shape and composition, because of the ease of conformal casting of the anchoring macroinitiator film. Polymer brush coatings are synthesized in a robust way, as ARGET and AGET ATRP require little to no deoxygenation and make use of stable catalysts. The monomer, catalyst, ligand and reducing agent concentrations, the amount and type of initiating moiety in the anchoring films, and the choice of solvents are optimized, resulting in control over the rate of reaction, and the molecular weight of poly(PEGMA). The best conditions are determined for the formation of a poly(PEGMA) brush with high grafting density, controlled thickness and “living” ends available for post-functionalization.