Hierarchical comb brush architectures via sequential light-mediated controlled radical polymerizations

Narupai, B., Poelma, J. E., Pester, C. W., McGrath, A. J., Toumayan, E. P., Luo, Y., Kramer, J. W., Clark, P. G., Ray, P. C. and Hawker, C. J.
J. Polym. Sci. A Polym. Chem.
54, 2276–2284

A novel strategy for the synthesis and characterization of branched polymer brushes by sequential light-mediated controlled radical polymerizations is described. Initially, linear brushes are prepared by surface-initiated copolymerization of methyl methacrylate and 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA). In a subsequent step, the HEMA side chains are functionalized with initiating groups for secondary graft polymerization, leading to hierarchical, branched architectures. The increased steric bulk due to the polymer side chains results in a dramatic increase in film thickness when compared to the starting linear brushes. This strategy also allows chemical gradient and complex three-dimensional structures to be obtained by employing grayscale photomasks in combination with controlled radical polymerization.