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Covalent Layer-by-Layer Assemblies of Polyelectrolytes and Homobifunctional Spacers

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journal contribution
posted on 20.07.2010 by Alae E. El Haitami, Jean-Sébastien Thomann, Loïc Jierry, Audrey Parat, Jean-Claude Voegel, Pierre Schaaf, Bernard Senger, Fouzia Boulmedais, Benoît Frisch
The step-by-step buildup of organic films through physical or covalent bonds is usually performed by the alternating adsorption of two types of polymeric chains. Overcompensation of the interacting groups after each deposition step (e.g., charge overcompensation in the case of polyelectrolyte multilayers) allows the buildup process to proceed. This overcompensation is intimately linked to the polymeric nature of the interacting species. We report here another type of film architecture also based on step-by-step construction but involving the covalent bonding, through the Sharpless click reaction, between polyelectrolytes (i.e., polyanions) and neutral bifunctional molecules. The films are built by the Cu(I)-catalyzed click reaction of poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) functionalized with ethylene glycol (EG) arms, each ending with either an alkyne or an azide group, and bifunctionalized EG spacers ended with either alkyne or azide functions. We prove that these systems lead to the regular buildup of films that cover the whole substrate surface and whose roughness varies as the thickness of the film core. The effects of various parameters on film buildup are investigated. The grafting density of reactive moieties along the PAA chains has no influence on the thickness increment per bilayer. EG spacers bifunctionalized with alkyne groups reacting with PAA chains functionalized with azide arms give films that grow more rapidly than those obtained with azide-functionalized EG spacers and alkyne-functionalized PAA chains. The influence of the length of the EG arm (grafted on PAA) and of the EG spacer on the film buildup is also investigated: longer arms or longer spacers lead to larger thickness increments per bilayer, except for very large spacers of 50 EG units for which the thickness is the smallest probably because of size exclusion effects during the deposition.