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Aulich, D. ; Hoy, O. ; Luzinov, I. ; Brücher, M. ; Hergenröder, R. ; Bittrich, E. ; Eichhorn, K.-J. ; Uhlmann, P. ; Stamm, M. ; Esser, N. ; Hinrichs, K.
In situ studies on the switching behavior of ultrathin poly(acrylic acid) polyelectrolyte brushes in defferent aqueous environments

The pH-dependent switching of a poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) polyelectrolyte brush was investigated in situ using infrared spectroscopic ellipsometry (IRSE). The brush was synthesized by a “grafting to” procedure on silicon substrate with a native oxide layer. The overall thickness of the PAA brush in the dry state was 5 nm. Reversible switching of the polymer brush was studied at titration from pH 2 to 10 and back in steps of 1 pH unit. The switching process was observed by monitoring the characteristic vibrational bands of the carboxylic groups of the PAA molecules. Decreasing of the C-O vibrational band amplitude and arising of a COO- vibrational band proved the chemical changes in the molecular structure of the brushes due to changes of the pH value in the aqueous solution. Due to the strong absorption of these bands in the IR region, the switching process could be monitored clearly. Switching the brush in several cycles with increasing and decreasing pH value showed a hysteresis-like behavior. For the first time, such hysteresis is observed in titration experiments of polyelectrolyte brushes. This behavior is attributed to the complex mechanisms of the ion’s mobility in the brush layer which is explained with a suggested simplifying model describing the influence of ions inside the brush layer. In addition to the IRSE measurements, X-ray standing waves (XSW), in situ visible ellipsometry, and contact angle measurements have been performed and were in good agreement with the results from IRSE. Repetition of the in situ measurement cycles proved the good reversibility of the switching process which is highly important for practical applications of polymer brushes.

Langmuir 26



Erschienen am
October 2010

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