American Chemical Society
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Temperature-Sensitive Swelling of Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) Brushes with Low Molecular Weight and Grafting Density

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journal contribution
posted on 2012-02-21, 00:00 authored by Eva Bittrich, Sina Burkert, Martin Müller, Klaus-Jochen Eichhorn, Manfred Stamm, Petra Uhlmann
Temperature-sensitive poly­(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm) brushes with different molecular weights Mn and grafting densities σ were prepared by the “grafting-to” method. Changes in their physicochemical properties according to temperature were investigated with the help of in situ spectroscopic ellipsometry and in situ attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy. Brush criteria indicate a transition between a brush conformation below the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) and an intermediate to mushroom conformation above the LCST. By in situ ellipsometry distinct changes in the brush layer parameters (wet thickness, refractive index, buffer content) were observed. A broadening of the temperature region with maximum deswelling occurred with decreasing grafting density. The brush layer properties were independent of the grafting density below the LCST, but showed a virtually monotonic behavior above the LCST. The midtemperature ϑhalf of the deswelling process increased with increasing grafting density. Thus grafting density-dependent design parameters for such functional films were presented. For the first time, ATR-FTIR spectroscopy was used to monitor segment density and hydrogen bonding changes of these very thin PNIPAAm brushes as a function of temperature based on significant variations of the methyl stretching, Amide I, as well as Amide II bands with respect to intensity and wavenumber position. No dependence on Mn and σ in the wavenumber shift of these bands above the LCST was found. The temperature profile of these band intensities and thus segment density was found to be rather step-like, exceeding temperatures around the LCST, while the respective profile of their wavenumber positions suggested continuous structural and hydration processes. Remaining buffer amounts and residual intermolecular segment/water interaction in the collapsed brushes above the LCST could be confirmed by both in situ methods.