Light-Gated Control of Conformational Changes in Polymer Brushes

July 10, 2021

Herein, a strategy to control conformational changes in grafted polymer brushes via photoinduced crosslinking of photoreactive groups embedded into the lateral architecture of a polymer brush is reported. Poly(methylmethacrylate)-based polymer brushes containing UV-light (λ = 325 nm) photoreactive o-methyl benzaldehyde moieties are synthesized using surface-initiated reversible deactivation polymerization. The conformational changes in polymer brushes upon UV-light triggered crosslinking are comprehensively analyzed through a full suite of surface sensitive characterization methods including time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry, quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring, UV/vis spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, nanoplasmonic sensing, and neutron reflectometry. The spatiotemporal control of the induced conformational changes is demonstrated via photolithography experiments. To enable an additional level of control, a second gate, the visible light (λ = 445 nm) active styrylpyrene moiety, is incorporated into the polymer brush architecture. Critically, wavelength-selective crosslinking behavior is observed in the diblock copolymer structures allowing to crosslink specific sections of the lateral brush architecture as a function of irradiation wavelength.


Sabrina Bialas, Tim Krappitz, Sarah L. Walden, Kubra Kalayci, Daniel Kodura, Hendrik Frisch, Jennifer M. MacLeod, Andrew Nelson, Lukas Michalek and Christopher Barner-Kowollik

Published in

Advanced Materials Technologies


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