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Neutron reflectometry yields distance-dependent structures of nanometric polymer brushes interacting across water

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Abstract

The interaction between surfaces displaying end-grafted hydrophilic polymer brushes plays important roles in biology and in many wet-technological applications. In this context, the conformation of the brushes upon their mutual approach is crucial, because it affects interaction forces and the brushes' shear-tribological properties. While this aspect has been addressed by theory, experimental data on polymer conformations under confinement are difficult to obtain. Here, we study interacting planar brushes of hydrophilic polymers with defined length and grafting density. Via ellipsometry and neutron reflectometry we obtain pressure–distance curves and determine distance-dependent polymer conformations in terms of brush compression and reciprocative interpenetration. While the pressure–distance curves are satisfactorily described by the Alexander-de-Gennes model, the pronounced brush interpenetration as seen by neutron reflectometry motivates detailed simulation-based studies capable of treating brush interpenetration on a quantitative level.

Graphical abstract: Neutron reflectometry yields distance-dependent structures of nanometric polymer brushes interacting across water

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Publication details

The article was received on 29 May 2017, accepted on 20 Jul 2017 and first published on 24 Jul 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01066D
Citation: Soft Matter, 2017, Advance Article
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
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    Neutron reflectometry yields distance-dependent structures of nanometric polymer brushes interacting across water

    I. Rodriguez-Loureiro, E. Scoppola, L. Bertinetti, A. Barbetta, G. Fragneto and E. Schneck, Soft Matter, 2017, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01066D

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