Reversible Surface Engineering via Nitrone-Mediated Radical Coupling

Joachim Laun, Wouter Marchal, Vanessa Trouillet, Alexander Welle, An Hardy, Marlies K. Van Bael, Christopher Barner-Kowollik, Tanja Junkers

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Efficient and simple polymer conjugation reactions are critical for introducing functionalities on surfaces. For polymer surface grafting, postpolymerization modifications are often required, which can impose a significant synthetic hurdle. Here, we report two strategies that allow for reversible surface engineering via nitrone-mediated radical coupling (NMRC). Macroradicals stemming from the activation of polymers generated by copper-mediated radical polymerization are grafted via radical trapping with a surface-immobilized nitrone or a solution-borne nitrone. Since the product of NMRC coupling features an alkoxyamine linker, the grafting reactions can be reversed or chain insertions can be performed via nitroxide-mediated polymerization (NMP). Poly(n-butyl acrylate) (Mn = 1570 g·mol-1, D? = 1.12) with a bromine terminus was reversibly grafted to planar silicon substrates or silica nanoparticles as successfully evidenced via X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry, and grazing angle attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (GAATR-FTIR). NMP chain insertions of styrene are evidenced via GAATR-FTIR. On silica nanoparticles, an NMRC grafting density of close to 0.21 chains per nm2 was determined by dynamic light scattering and thermogravimetric analysis. Concomitantly, a simple way to decorate particles with nitroxide radicals with precise control over the radical concentration is introduced. Silica microparticles and zinc oxide, barium titanate, and silicon nanoparticles were successfully functionalized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3244-3255
Number of pages12
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2018

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