3 years ago

Strong Stretching of Poly(ethylene glycol) Brushes Mediated by Ionic Liquid Solvation

Strong Stretching of Poly(ethylene glycol) Brushes Mediated by Ionic Liquid Solvation
Rosa M. Espinosa-Marzal, Mengwei Han
We have measured forces between mica surfaces coated with a poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) brush solvated by a vacuum-dry ionic liquid, 1-ethyl-3-methyl imidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide, with a surface forces apparatus. At high grafting density, the solvation mediated by the ionic liquid causes the brush to stretch twice as much as in water. Modeling of the steric repulsion indicates that PEG behaves as a polyelectrolyte; the hydrogen bonding between ethylene glycol and the imidazolium cation seems to effectively charge the polymer brush, which justifies the strong stretching. Importantly, under strong polymer compression, solvation layers are squeezed out at a higher rate than for the neat ionic liquid. We propose that the thermal fluctuations of the PEG chains, larger in the brush than in the mushroom configuration, maintain the fluidity of the ionic liquid under strong compression, in contrast to the solid-like squeezing-out behavior of the neat ionic liquid. This is the first experimental study of the behavior of a polymer brush solvated by an ionic liquid under nanoconfinement.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpclett.7b01451

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.7b01451

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