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Vyas, M. K. ; Nandan, B. ; Schneider, K. ; Stamm, M.
Nanowear studies in reversibly switchable polystyrene-poly(acrylic acid) mixed brushes

Wear studies were performed on polystyrene (PS)–poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) mixed polymer brushes and corresponding monobrushes in a dried state. The aim was to study the wear mechanism in polymer brush surfaces as well as to investigate the effect of switching of PS + PAA binary brush surfaces (on treatment with the selective solvents for the PS and PAA) on the wear process. Wear experiments were carried out using atomic force microscopy (AFM) under a controlled environment. The wear experiments were performed as a function of scan number using a sharp silicon nitride tip to induce the wear on the sample surfaces. The wear mechanism on different brush surfaces was influenced by molecular entanglement as well as adhesion and friction on the sample surface. The wear process on the PS monobrush surface treated with toluene took place via formation of the ripples. On the other hand, a typical wear mode observed on the PAA monobrushes was removal of the polymeric material from the surface. For the mixed brush surface treated with toluene (selective solvent for PS) where PS chains dominated the top of the sample surface, the typical wear mode observed was ripple formation similar to that observed for the PS monobrushes. However, when a mixed brush was treated with ethanol and pH 10 water so that PAA chains dominated the top layer, wear occurred via removal of material. The amount of wear on the surfaces increased with the number of scans. Furthermore, the load and scan velocity dependence of the wear process was also investigated. Wear on polymer brush surfaces increased on increasing the load and/or decreasing the scan speed. The present study shows that wear can be controlled/tuned using mixed responsive brushes.

Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 328



December 2008


Nanostructured Materials