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Keywords:

  • functionalization of polymers;
  • photopolymerization;
  • polyacrylamide;
  • polymer brushes;
  • radical polymerization;
  • surface grafting;
  • thin films

Abstract

More than 2 decades of active investigations in the field of polymer brushes have revealed continuous and growing interest in different aspects of synthesis, properties, and applications of tethered polymers. In this article, we report on our recent advances in brush synthesis. The method we explore is based on the combination of “grafting through” approach with the functional anchoring polymer layer technique. We introduce the photoinitiated “version” of synthesis of polyacrylamide brushes. Both homogeneous depositions and laterally resolved gradient and patterned samples have been prepared by this technique. The results for flat polymer brushes, that is, thickness, stability, and contact angles, are complimented by kinetic parameters as deducted from analysis of gradient samples obtained by the method of a sliding mask. A microscopic shadow mask is used to fabricate patterned brushes. The microscopically patterned brushes demonstrate high lateral resolution limited by optical phenomena. Finally, we have performed a viability assaying of neuronal cell on both flat and patterned brushes. Sufficient restraint of cell adhesion on polyacrylamide photobrushes and very low cytotoxicity of the brush components (polymer brush itself, anchoring layer) make photografting a promising platform to control cell deposition and surface localization. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 48: 1616–1622, 2010