Interaction Forces between Pegylated Star-Shaped Polymers at Mica Surfaces
journal contributionposted on 03.08.2017, 00:00 by Xavier Banquy, Frantz Le Dévédec, Hsiu-Wei Cheng, Jimmy Faivre, Julian X. X. Zhu, Markus Valtiner
We present a study focused on characterizing the interaction forces between mica surfaces across solutions containing star-shaped polymers with cationic ends. Using the surface forces apparatus, we show that the interaction forces in pure water between surfaces covered with the polymers can be adequately described by the dendronized brush model. In that framework, our experimental data suggest that the number of branches adsorbed at the surface decreases as the concentration of polymer in the adsorbing solution increases. The onset of interaction was also shown to increase with the concentration of polymer in solution up to distances much larger than the contour length of the polymer, suggesting that the nanostructure of the polymer film is significantly different from that of a monolayer. High compression of the polymer film adsorbed at low polymer concentration revealed the appearance of a highly structured hydration layer underneath the polymer layer. These results support that charged polymer chains do not necessarily come into close contact with the surface even if strong electrostatic interaction is present. Altogether, our results provide a comprehensive understanding of the interfacial behavior of star-shaped polymers and reveal the unexpected role of hydration water in the control of the polymer conformation.