Permanent surface modification by electron-beam-induced grafting of hydrophilic polymers to PVDF membranes
Electron-beam-induced grafting of hydrophilic polymers was applied to modify PVDF membranes for biomedical applications. Grafting was performed by immersing the membrane in an aqueous solution of different hydrophilic polymers followed by electron-beam irradiation. The two polymer types are able to cross-link by recombination of adjacent radicals formed via the irradiation. Although the untreated membrane was already quite hydrophilic, the modification resulted in even lower water contact angles at the membrane surface indicating improved water wettability. The presence of different functional groups originating from the hydrophilic polymers was detected on the membrane surface by electrokinetic measurements. SEM investigations as well as porosimetry experiments showed that the grafted hydrophilic polymer layer is very thin; therefore, the membrane pore structure is not negatively affected. Soxhlet extraction revealed the stability of the modification for selected polymers: surface contact angles were comparable after extraction, and total organic carbon investigation of the extraction water revealed no significant loss of organic material. Investigated mechanical properties confirmed an increased stability due to cross-linking of the polymers. Undesired hemolysis was not detected with hemocompatibility tests, and coagulation was decreased with selected hydrophilic polymers. Because of the absence of any toxic material during surface modification and the high stability of the product, this method is believed to be suitable for the modification of membranes for medical applications, e.g. for improving the hemo- or biocompatibility.