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Title: Surface initiated polymerisation for applications in materials science
Author: Zhu, Bocheng
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2012
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A systematic study of the surface-initiated polymerisation kinetics of a relatively new type of atom transfer radical polymerisation (ATRP), activators regenerated by electron transfer (ARGET) ATRP, is first demonstrated in this report. Poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (PHEMA) and poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) were successfully grown from silicon surfaces at room temperature by surface-initiated ARGET ATRP using a "3rd generation" cationic macroinitiator. The polymer films were analysed by ellipsometry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). With the initial experiment showing that water accelerated conventional ATRP but made it less controlled, the effect of solvent on ARGET ATRP was also evaluated. The living character of ARGET ATRP was demonstrated by successfully reinitiating PHEMA-grafted silicon wafers to grow a second block of PHEMA. Initiator density was shown to have a great effect on the growth rate of PHEMA film thickness on silicon surfaces by comparing the ARGET ATRP growth of PHEMA films using two different initiators, "1st generation" and "3rd generation" cationic macroinitiators, which have different ratios of initiating groups to positive charge. Another type of initiator for ATRP systems, an amide silane, was then investigated as an alternative to polyelectrolyte macroinitiators to avoid degrafting. The effects of solvent, 2, 2′ bipyridyl (bpy) ligand concentration and different types of reducing agent on the growth of PHEMA film from amide-initiator coated silicon wafers by ARGET ATRP were then explored at room temperature. However, it was found that the swings in the uncontrolled laboratory ambient temperature caused inter-sample and inter-experiment variability and so could make the evaluations inaccurate or even wrong. An investigation of temperature on ARGET ATRP showed a dramatic effect on the polymerisation rate. The higher the temperature, the faster the polymerisation proceeded. Therefore, the effects of solvent, ratio of bpy to Cu and reducing agent on the ARGET ATRP growth of PHEMA brushes from amide initiator-coated silicon wafers were re-evaluated at a constant temperature, 30 °C. The development of a polydopamine-based initiator, which was designed to be able to be immobilised on a wide range of surfaces, is then presented in this report. Polydopamine was first shown to be able to deposit on various types of material surfaces by oxidative polymerisation in aqueous solution. Bromoester initiating groups for ATRP systems were incorporated into polydopamine coatings by reacting a fraction of the dopamine monomer with 2-bromoisobutyryl bromide (BIBB) before polymerisation. The modified polydopamine initiator film grew at a comparable rate to unmodified polydopamine, with a 45 nm being grown in 24 hours. Successful incorporation of initiator groups was confirmed by XPS and FTIR, and by the growth of PMMA and PHEMA polymer brushes by ARGET ATRP from the polydopamine initiator coatings. A PMMA brush with a thickness of 239 nm was grown in 72 hours, indicating that the grafting density is sufficiently high to be in the brush regime. This initiator was demonstrated to be able to deposit on a range of substrates, such as metals (steel) and polymers (polystyrene), and successfully initiate polymer growth, demonstrating its broad applicability. The assessment of ARGET ATRP as a simple and effective tool for interfacial shear strength improvement in cellulose-based fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites is finally presented. It was demonstrated by control experiments that grafting polystyrene on glass fibre surfaces via ARGET ATRP greatly improved the interfacial adhesion between glass fibres and a high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) matrix, although a specific value of interfacial strength was not obtained due to failure of the modified glass fibre composite samples in areas other than the interface. It was then demonstrated that PMMA was successfully grown from the surfaces of polydopamine initiator coated cotton fibre and BIBB-modified cotton fibre by ARGET ATRP. Polydopamine initiator was shown to be a better initiator for cotton fibre than BIBB, possibly since the adsorbed water on cotton fibres can react with BIBB. The improvement of interfacial adhesion between cotton fibres and a PMMA matrix by grafting PMMA on the cotton surface was assessed by peel testing of cotton fibres pressed into PMMA sheets. There is a clear trend in the relationship between the peeling force and growth time of PMMA on the cotton fibre by ARGET ATRP, although the inter-sample reproducibility is not good.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Surface-initiated polymerisation ; Polymer brushes ; Polydopamine ; Surface-independent initiator ; Interfacial adhesion