Surface modification with thermoresponsive polymer brushes for a switchable electrochemical sensor†
Elaboration of switchable surfaces represents an interesting way for the development of a new generation of electrochemical sensors. In this paper, a method for growing thermoresponsive polymer brushes from a gold surface pre-modified with polyethyleneimine (PEI), subsequent layer-by-layer polyelectrolyte assembly and adsorption of a charged macroinitiator is described. We propose an easy method for monitoring the coil-to-globule phase transition of the polymer brush using an electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (E-QCM-D). The surface of these polymer modified electrodes shows reversible switching from the swollen to the collapsed state with temperature. As demonstrated from E-QCM-D measurements using an original signal processing method, the switch is operating in three reversible steps related to different interfacial viscosities. Moreover, it is shown that the one electron oxidation of ferrocene carboxylic acid is dramatically affected by the change from the swollen to the collapsed state of the polymer brush, showing a spectacular 86% decrease of the charge transfer resistance between the two states.