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Water-Wettable Polypropylene Fibers by Facile Surface Treatment Based on Soy Proteins

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journal contribution
posted on 24.07.2013, 00:00 by Carlos Salas, Jan Genzer, Lucian A. Lucia, Martin A. Hubbe, Orlando J. Rojas
Modification of the wetting behavior of hydrophobic surfaces is essential in a variety of materials, including textiles and membranes that require control of fluid interactions, adhesion, transport processes, sensing, etc. This investigation examines the enhancement of wettability of an important class of textile materials, viz., polypropylene (PP) fibers, by surface adsorption of different proteins from soybeans, including soy flour, isolate,glycinin, and β-conglycinin. Detailed investigations of soy adsorption from aqueous solution (pH 7.4, 25 °C) on polypropylene thin films is carried out using quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) and surface plasmon resonance (SPR). A significant amount of protein adsorbs onto the PP surfaces primarily due to hydrophobic interactions. We establish that adsorption of a cationic surfactant, dioctadecyldimethylammonium bromide (DODA) onto PP surfaces prior to the protein deposition dramatically enhances its adsorption. The adsorption of proteins from native (PBS buffer, pH 7.4, 25 °C) and denatured conditions (PBS buffer, pH 7.4, 95 °C) onto DODA-treated PP leads to a high coverage of the proteins on the PP surface as confirmed by a significant improvement in water wettability. A shift in the contact angle from 128° to completely wettable surfaces (≈0°) is observed and confirmed by imaging experiments conducted with fluorescence tags. Furthermore, the results from wicking tests indicate that hydrophobic PP nonwovens absorb a significant amount of water after protein treatment, i.e., the PP-modified surfaces become completely hydrophilic.