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Multiscale Surface-Attached Hydrogel Thin Films with Tailored Architecture

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journal contribution
posted on 23.03.2016, 00:00 by Benjamin Chollet, Mengxing Li, Ekkachai Martwong, Bruno Bresson, Christian Fretigny, Patrick Tabeling, Yvette Tran
A facile route for the fabrication of surface-attached hydrogel thin films with well-controlled chemistry and tailored architecture on wide range of thickness from nanometers to micrometers is reported. The synthesis, which consists in cross-linking and grafting the preformed and ene-reactive polymer chains through thiol–ene click chemistry, has the main advantage of being well-controlled without the addition of initiators. As thiol–ene click reaction can be selectively activated by UV-irradiation (in addition to thermal heating), micropatterned hydrogel films are easily synthesized. The versatility of our approach is illustrated by the possibility to fabricate various chemical polymer networks, like stimuli-responsive hydrogels, on various solid substrates, such as silicon wafers, glass, and gold surfaces. Another attractive feature is the development of new complex hydrogel films with targeted architecture. The fabrication of various architectures for polymer films is demonstrated: multilayer hydrogel films in which single-networks are stacked one onto the other, interpenetrating networks films with mixture of two networks in the same layer, and nanocomposite hydrogel films where nanoparticles are stably trapped inside the mesh of the network. Thanks to its simplicity and its versatility this novel approach to surface-attached hydrogel films should have a strong impact in the area of polymer coatings.