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Polymers at surfaces
Kobayashi, Motoyasu Department of Applied Chemistry, Kogakuin University, Tokyo, Japan.
Takahara, Atsushi Institute for Materials Chemistry and Engineering, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.
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Surfaces and interfaces of soft materials play an important role in various functional applications, such as marine and biomedical anti-biofouling coatings, lubricating (tribological) coatings, adhesion layers, antistatic films, and ultrathin insulators. Surface-grafted polymers can be classified as soft-material interfaces. The simplest way to immobilize the polymer chains on the surface is through a physisorption approach involving two-component polymer chains, where one part strongly adheres to the surface and the second part extends to generate the polymer layer. The tethering point can be a functional group or a diblock copolymer, both of which are strongly adsorbed at the surface and act as an anchor for the polymer chain. This is a typical “grafting-to” method. Although the polymer layer is thermally stable and is not released into the solvent, the graft density and film thickness are quite low because after a certain concentration of large polymer chains is grafted to the surface, it becomes difficult for additional polymer chains to diffuse to the surface because of steric hindrance. The low-density grafted polymer will assume a “mushroom” conformation with a coil dimension similar to that of ungrafted (free) chains. See also: Copolymer; Polymer
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