American Chemical Society
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Probing the Structural Dependence of Carbon Space Lengths of Poly(N‑hydroxyalkyl acrylamide)-Based Brushes on Antifouling Performance

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journal contribution
posted on 2014-08-11, 00:00 authored by Jintao Yang, Mingzhen Zhang, Hong Chen, Yung Chang, Zhan Chen, Jie Zheng
Numerous biocompatible antifouling polymers have been developed for a wide variety of fundamental and practical applications in drug delivery, biosensors, marine coatings, and many other areas. Several antifouling mechanisms have been proposed, but the exact relationship among molecular structure, surface hydration property, and antifouling performance of antifouling polymers still remains elusive. Here this work strives to provide a better understanding of the structure–property relationship of poly­(N-hydroxyalkyl acrylamide)-based materials. We have designed, synthesized, and characterized a series of polyHAAA brushes of various carbon spacer lengths (CSLs), that is, poly­(N-hydroxymethyl acrylamide) (polyHMAA), poly­(N-(2-hydroxyethyl)­acrylamide) (polyHEAA), poly­(N-(3-hydroxypropyl)­acrylamide) (polyHPAA), and poly­(N-(5-hydroxypentyl)­acrylamide) (polyHPenAA), to study the structural dependence of CSLs on their antifouling performance. HMAA, HEAA, HPAA, and HPenAA monomers contained one, two, three, and five methylene groups between hydroxyl and amide groups, while the other groups in polymer backbones were the same as each other. The relation of such small structural differences of polymer brushes to their surface hydration and antifouling performance was studied by combined experimental and computational methods including surface plasmon resonance sensors, sum frequency generation (SFG) vibrational spectroscopy, cell adhesion assay, and molecular simulations. Antifouling results showed that all polyHAAA-based brushes were highly surface resistant to protein adsorption from single protein solutions, undiluted blood serum and plasma, as well as cell adhesion up to 7 days. In particular, polyHMAA and polyHEAA with the shorter CSLs exhibited higher surface hydration and better antifouling ability than polyHPMA and polyHPenAA. SFG and molecular simulations further revealed that the variation of CSLs changed the ratio of hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity of polymers, resulting in different hydration characteristics. Among them, polyHMAA and polyHEAA with the shorter CSLs showed the highest potency for surface hydration and antifouling abilities, while polyHPenAA showed the lowest potency. The combination of both hydroxyl and amide groups in the same polymer chain provides a promising structural motif for the design of new effective antifouling materials.