Chain Length and Grafting Density Dependent Enhancement in the Hydrolysis of Ester-Linked Polymer Brushes
Melzak KA, Yu K, Bo D, Kizhakkedathu JN, Toca-Herrera JL.
Langmuir 2015 Jun; 31: 6463 [Epub 3 Jun 2015].
oly(N,N-dimethylacrylamide) (PDMA) brushes with different grafting density and chain length were grown from an ester group-containing initiator using surface-initiated polymerization. Hydrolysis of the PDMA chains from the surface was monitored by measuring thickness of the polymer layer by ellipsometry and extension length by atomic force microscopy. It was found that the initial rate of cleavage of one end-tethered PDMA chains was dependent on the grafting density and chain length; the hydrolysis rate was faster for high grafting density brushes and brushes with higher molecular weights. Additionally, the rate of cleavage of polymer chains during a given experiment changed by up to 1 order of magnitude as the reaction progressed, with a distinct transition to a lower rate as the grafting density decreased. Also, polymer chains undergo selective cleavage, with longer chains in a polydisperse brush being preferentially cleaved at one stage of the hydrolysis reaction. We suggest that the enhanced initial hydrolysis rates seen at high grafting densities and high chain lengths are due to mechanical activation of the ester bond connecting the polymer chains to the surface in association with high lateral pressure within the brush. These results have implications for the preparation of polymers brushes, their stability under harsh conditions, and the analysis of polymer brushes from partial hydrolysates.
PubMed: 26010390. Doi: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.5b01424