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J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Nov 16;127(45):15843-7.

Biomimetic anchor for surface-initiated polymerization from metal substrates.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA.


In this paper, we demonstrate the first use of a catecholic initiator for surface-initiated polymerization (SIP) from metal surfaces to create antifouling polymer coatings. A new bifunctional initiator inspired by mussel adhesive proteins was synthesized, which strongly adsorbs to Ti and 316L stainless steel (SS) substrates, providing an anchor for surface immobilization of grafted polymers. Surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (SI-ATRP) was performed through the adsorbed biomimetic initiator to polymerize methyl methacrylate macromonomers with oligo(ethylene glycol) (OEG) side chains. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, surface FT-IR, and contact angle analysis confirmed the sequential grafting of initiator and polymer, and ellipsometry indicated the formation of polymer coatings of up to 100 nm thickness. Cell adhesion experiments performed with 3T3-Swiss albino fibroblasts showed substantially reduced cell adhesion onto polymer grafted Ti and 316L SS substrates as compared to the unmodified metals. Moreover, micropatterning of grafted polymer coatings on Ti surfaces was demonstrated by combining SI-ATRP and molecular assembly patterning by lift-off (MAPL), creating cell-adhesive and cell-resistant regions for potential use as cell arrays. Due to the ability of catechols to bind to a large variety of inorganic surfaces, this biomimetic anchoring strategy is expected to be a highly versatile tool for polymer thin film surface modification for biomedical and other applications.

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