Strong and tuneable wet adhesion with rationally designed layer-by-layer assembled triblock copolymer films
In this study the wet adhesion between Layer-by-Layer (LbL) assembled films of triblock copolymer micelles was investigated. Through the LbL assembly of triblock copolymer micelles with hydrophobic, low glass transition temperature (Tg) middle blocks and ionic outer blocks, a network of energy dissipating polymer chains with electrostatic interactions serving as crosslinks can be built. Four triblock copolymers were synthesized through Atom Transfer Radical Polymerisation (ATRP). One pair had a poly(2-ethyl-hexyl methacrylate) middle block with cationic or anionic outer blocks. The other pair contained the same ionic outer blocks but poly(n-butyl methacrylate) as the middle block. The wet adhesion was evaluated with colloidal probe AFM. To our knowledge, wet adhesion of the magnitude measured in this study has not previously been measured on any polymer system with this technique. We are convinced that this type of block copolymer system grants the ability to control the geometry and adhesive strength in a number of nano- and macroscale applications.