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Characterizing Polymer Brushes via Surface Wrinkling



Heqing Huang, Jun Y. Chung, Adam J. Nolte, Christopher M. Stafford


We present the application of surface wrinkling to measure the properties of polymer brush layers tethered to the surface of a deformable silicone substrate. It is demonstrated that the wavelength of the wrinkling pattern linearly increases with the length / thickness of the brush, yielding a Young s modulus for the brush layer that is comparable to that of the corresponding bulk polymer. Moreover, we show that the wrinkling wavelength (micrometer length scale) can provide an accurate measure of the brush thickness (nanometer length scale), a difficult measurement to conduct on transparent substrates used in this study. The covalent attachment of the polymer chains to the substrate also enables the wrinkled pattern to be completely reversible (wrinkled/flat) by alternating thermal and solvent treatments.The ability to switch between a wrinkled film and a flat film will be a useful tool for many applications such as measuring adhesion on reversibly rough surfaces and creating responsive components in microfluidic devices.
Chemistry of Materials


biocompatable, brush, buckling, modulus, silicone, surface chemistry, wrinkling


Huang, H. , Chung, J. , Nolte, A. and Stafford, C. (2007), Characterizing Polymer Brushes via Surface Wrinkling, Chemistry of Materials, [online], (Accessed April 19, 2024)
Created November 21, 2007, Updated February 19, 2017