This paper presents a comparative study on the antifouling properties of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-based polymer coatings prepared by surface-initiated polymerization (SIP). Three types of poly(oligo(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate) (POEGMEMA) polymer thin films of approximate 100 nm thickness were grafted from a catechol initiator that was immobilized on a Ti substrate. OEGMEMA monomers containing side chains of 4, 9, and 23 EG units were used in surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (SI-ATRP) to form POEGMEMA-4, -9, and -23 polymer brushes. The chemical composition, thickness, and wettability of the polymer brushes were characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), ellipsometry, and static water contact angle measurements, respectively. The dependence of antifouling performance on EG side chain length was systemically tested and compared by 3T3 fibroblast cell adhesion assays. Results from 4-h cell culture experiments revealed the complete absence of cell attachment on all the grafted Ti substrates. Excellent cell fouling resistance continued with little dependence on EG side chain length up to three weeks, after which long-term antifouling performance depended on the EG chain length as the grafted samples reached confluent cell coverage in 7, 10, and 11 weeks for POEGMEMA-4, -9, and -23, respectively.
Fan, X. W., L. J. Lin, P. B. Messersmith