Polymeric Thin Films

Three-Dimensional Polymer Brush Nanostructures through Light-Mediated Living Radical Polymerization

A facile approach to unique 3D, patterned polymer brushes is based on visible-light-mediated controlled radical polymerization. The temporal and spatial control of the polymerization allows the patterning of polymer brushes from a uniform initiating layer using a simple photomask (see picture). Furthermore, gradient polymer brushes, patterned block copolymers, and complex 3D structures can be obtained by modulating light intensity.

Catechol-based layer-by-layer assembly of composite coatings: A versatile platform to hierarchical nano-materials

Inspired by the marine mussel’s ability to adhere to surfaces underwater, an aqueous catechol-based dip coating platform was developed. Using a catechol-functionalized polyacrylamide binder in combination with inorganic nanoparticles enables the facile fabrication of robust composite coatings and Bragg stacks. This modular assembly of well-defined building blocks provides a versatile alternative to electrostatic driven approaches with layer thickness and refractive indices being readily tunable.

Ambiguous anti-fouling surfaces: Facile synthesis by light-mediated radical polymerization

In an attempt to create a polymer brush-based platform for the systematic study for anti-biofouling surfaces, the benefits of surface initiated, visible light-mediated radical polymerization are utilized to fabricate well-defined, chemically ambiguously patterned surfaces. A variety of analytical tools are used to illustrate the precise tuning of surface chemistry and thoroughly characterize spatially well-defined, hydrophilic/hydrophobic surfaces composed of poly(ethylene glycol methacrylate) and poly(trifluoroethyl methacrylate) with chemical definition on the micron scale. Advantages of both visible light-mediated photopolymerization and traditional copper-catalyzed atom transfer radical polymerization are combined to achieve both high spatial control and expanded monomer tolerance

Block Copolymer Nanopatterning

In one recent study, sequential phase transitions were investigated in detail for a set of newly designed poly(propylene oxide)-b-poly(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(propylene oxide) (PPO–PEO–PPO) triblock copolymers, where the PPO blocks have isotactic, (R)- or (S)-, or atactic configurations. In another, we explore the modular synthesis and nanolithographic potential of poly(dimethylsiloxane-block-methyl methacrylate) (PDMS-b-PMMA) with self-assembled domains approaching sub-10 nm periods.