19 nm-Thick Grafted-To Polymer Brushes onto Optimized Poly(Dopamine)-Coated Surfaces

Lucas W. Teunissen, Maarten M.J. Smulders, Han Zuilhof*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Grafting-to polymer coatings are typically easy to apply, but the thickness of such coatings is typically limited to a few nanometers, which may hamper applications. This paper presents a grafting-to coating approach that yields polymer brushes up to an unprecedented thickness of 19 nm. To this aim, an easy-to-apply poly(dopamine) (PDA) primer layer is optimized. PDA is an easy-to-apply, but highly complex and chemically not well understood primer layer. In this study, PDA is deposited on silicon substrates using several deposition protocols (pH 4–7 in presence of NaIO4, and from Tris solution at pH 8.5). The modified surfaces are characterized using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, spectroscopic ellipsometry, static water contact angle measurements, and atomic force microscopy. Subsequently, block copolymers of poly(glycidyl methacrylate)20-b-poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)n are attached onto the PDA films using a grafting-to approach. The results indicate that the conditions of PDA deposition and the PDA film thickness strongly influence the stability and grafting efficiency of the block copolymers. PDA films deposited at pH 7 with NaIO4 are stable, and yield the most efficient grafting, with grafted polymer layers as thick as 19 nm. Polymer layers of such thickness are rarely achieved using grafting-to procedures from solution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2202503
Number of pages11
JournalAdvanced Materials Interfaces
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2023


  • coatings
  • copolymers
  • dopamine
  • grafting-to
  • poly(dopamine)
  • responsive


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