Tailored multifunctional micellar brushes via crystallization-driven growth from a surface

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Science  29 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6469, pp. 1095-1098
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9075

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Growing polymer brushes from surfaces

Surface functionalization is important in a broad range of fields. One approach involves polymer brushes, where polymer chains are grafted onto a surface. Cai et al. describe the nanoscale functionalization of surfaces by exploiting the living crystallization-driven self-assembly of polyferrocenyl-based block copolymers (see the Perspective by Presa Soto). Small crystalline cylindrical micelle seeds were attached using noncovalent bonds to a variety of surfaces, including silicon wafers, graphene oxide nanosheets, and gold. Addition of dissolved unimers over the seed-coated surfaces allowed micellar brushes to grow. Protonation and postdecoration with gold and silver nanoparticles demonstrated the applicability of such modified surfaces in catalysis, as antibacterial agents, and in separation processes.

Science, this issue p. 1095; see also p. 1078


The creation of nanostructures with precise chemistries on material surfaces is of importance in a wide variety of areas such as lithography, superhydrophobicity, and cell adhesion. We describe a platform for surface functionalization that involves the fabrication of cylindrical micellar brushes on a silicon wafer through seeded growth of crystallizable block copolymers at the termini of immobilized, surface-confined crystallite seeds. The density, length, and coronal chemistry of the micellar brushes can be precisely tuned, and post-growth decoration with nanoparticles enables applications in catalysis and antibacterial surface modification. The micellar brushes can also be grown on ultrathin two-dimensional materials such as graphene oxide nanosheets and further assembled into a membrane for the separation of oil-in-water emulsions and gold nanoparticles.

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