Influence of the molecular architecture on the adsorption onto solid surfaces: comb-like polymers

The processes of adsorption of grafted copolymers onto negatively charged surfaces were studied using a dissipative quartz crystal microbalance (D-QCM) and ellipsometry. The control parameters in the study of the adsorption are the existence or absence on the molecular architecture of grafted polyethyleneglycol (PEG) chains with different lengths and the chemical nature of the main chain, poly(allylamine) (PAH) or poly(L-lysine) (PLL). It was found out that the adsorption kinetics of the polymers showed a complex behavior. The total adsorbed amount depends on the architecture of the polymer chains (length of the PEG chains), on the polymer concentration and on the chemical nature of the main chain. The comparison of the thicknesses of the adsorbed layers obtained from D-QCM and from ellipsometry allowed calculation of the water content of the layers that is intimately related to the grafting length. The analysis of D-QCM results also provides information about the shear modulus of the layers, whose values have been found to be typical of a rubber-like polymer system. It is shown that the adsorption of polymers with a charged backbone is not driven exclusively by the electrostatic interactions, but the entropic contributions as a result of the trapping of water in the layer structure are of fundamental importance.