Switchable surface structured hydrogel coatings
Switchable surface structures based on hydrogels are an emerging field in material science, microfluidics, soft robotics and anti-fouling. Here, we describe a novel method that uses a photo-cross-linkable terpolymer to create a hydrogel coating with a switchable surface structure. The terpolymer is based on poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAm) and it is shown that simple coating technologies like slit die coating can be used under ambient conditions. It is also shown that the swelling ratio of the coating is controlled by the energy dose of ultraviolet (UV) light. Simple and complex surface structures were created using respectively single or multiple UV illumination steps through masks and it is shown that the hydrogel coatings can be reversibly switched from a structured state to a flat state with temperature.