Interface-controlled calcium phosphate mineralization: effect of oligo(aspartic acid)-rich interfaces†
The phase behavior of an amphiphilic block copolymer based on a poly(aspartic acid) hydrophilic block and a poly(n-butyl acrylate) hydrophobic block was investigated at the air–water and air–buffer interface. The polymer forms stable monomolecular films on both subphases. At low pH, the isotherms exhibit a plateau. Compression–expansion experiments and infrared reflection absorption spectroscopy suggest that the plateau is likely due to the formation of polymer bi- or multilayers. At high pH the films remain intact upon compression and no multilayer formation is observed. Furthermore, the mineralization of calcium phosphate beneath the monolayer was studied at different pH. The pH of the subphase and thus the polymer charge strongly affects the phase behavior of the film and the mineral formation. After 4 h of mineralization at low pH, atomic force microscopy shows smooth mineral films with a low roughness. With increasing pH the mineral films become inhomogeneous and the roughness increases. Transmission electron microscopy confirms this: at low pH a few small but uniform particles form whereas particles grown at higher pH are larger and highly agglomerated. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy confirm the formation of calcium phosphate. The levels of mineralization are higher in samples grown at high pH.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Fundamentals of Nanocrystal Formation