Modifying and managing the surface properties of polymers



An ongoing challenge in polymer science is the preparation of materials with bespoke surface properties which differ from that of the bulk, for example hydrophobicity, wettability, chemical resistance, adhesion or biocompatibility. We highlight here recent efforts in the design, development and application of (multi)end-functionalized polymers as additives for the efficient modification of polymer surface properties. Aryl-ether moieties bearing up to eight functional groups have been used as initiators for the controlled polymerization of both styrene and methyl methacrylate by atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) and of lactide by ring opening polymerization (ROP). The resulting polymers have been used as additives to modify the surfaces of the corresponding bulk polymers. Fluorinated polymer surfaces are particularly appealing in terms of their liquid repellence, chemical inertness and low coefficient of friction. When an additive consisting of a low molecular weight polystyrene chain, end-capped with four C8F17 groups, is present in a matrix of polystyrene at levels as low as 0.1%, near polytetrafluoroethylene-like surface properties result. Copyright © 2007 Society of Chemical Industry