In recent years, zwitterionic materials such as poly(carboxybetaine) (pCB) and poly(sulfobetaine) (pSB) have been applied to a broad range of biomedical and engineering materials. Due to electrostatically induced hydration, surfaces coated with zwitterionic groups are highly resistant to nonspecific protein adsorption, bacterial adhesion, and biofilm formation. Among zwitterionic materials, pCB is unique due to its abundant functional groups for the convenient immobilization of biomolecules. pCB can also be prepared in a hydrolyzable form as cationic pCB esters, which can kill bacteria or condense DNA. The hydrolysis of cationic pCB esters into nonfouling zwitterionic groups will lead to the release of killed microbes or the irreversible unpackaging of DNA. Furthermore, mixed-charge materials have been shown to be equivalent to zwitterionic materials in resisting nonspecific protein adsorption when they are uniformly mixed at the molecular scale.
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