The temperature-induced structural changes of a thermo-responsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) layer grafted onto a silica substrate were inve7stigated in aqueous solution using an atomic force microscope (AFM) and a quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D). A PNIPAM layer was grafted onto the silicon wafer surface by free radical polymerization of NIPAM to obtain a high molecular weight polymer layer with low-grafting density overall. By AFM imaging, the transition of the grafted PNIPAM chains from a brush-like to a mushroom-like state was clearly visualized: The surface images of the plate were featureless at temperatures below the LCST commensurate with a brush-like layer, whereas above the LCST, a large number of domain structures with a characteristic size of ∼100 nm were seen on the surface. Both frequency and dissipation data obtained using QCM-D showed a significant change at the LCST. Analysis of these data confirmed that the observed PNIPAM structural transition was caused by a collapse of the brush-like structure as a result of dehydration of the polymer chains.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry