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Title: Switchable adhesion between oppositely charged polyelectrolytes
Author: La Spina, Rita
ISNI:       0000 0004 2692 8245
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2010
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Adhesion is a well-studied phenomenon, mainly for its industrial importance. We consider a smart water-based adhesive that is switchable, i.e. the adhesion may be turned on and off by an environmental trigger, in this case the pH. The interaction investigated is between a weak polyacid hydrogel of poly(methacrylic acid) (PMAA) and poly [2-( dimethyl amino )ethyl methacrylate] (PDMAEMA, a weak polybase) chemically grafted to planar silicon substrates (brushes) by atom transfer radical polymerisation. The interaction between PDMAEMA and PMAA is of great interest because it represents a situation where a surface adhesive (a polybase in contact with a polyacid) can be turned on and off simply by changing the external environment. In particular we observe that at pH less than 2, there is no significant interaction between the brush and hydrogel, whereas above pH 3, there is strong adhesion comparable to epoxy glue. The interaction between the brush and the gel is pressure sensitive so that the adhesion energy is a function of the applied load. To understand the mechanism involved in the pressure sensitive behaviour we performed neutron reflectivity experiments of the brush in contact with the hydrogel after known pressures were applied. Comparison of the conformations of brushes of different thicknesses but with the same applied pressure shows that the interaction between the brush and hydrogel takes place at the interface and is mainly due to electrostatic interactions between the carboxylic group of the hydrogel and the amino group into the brush. Viscoelastic dissipation in the hydrogel also contributes to the total work of adhesion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available