Polymer Engineering Faculty Research


New Antifouling Silica Hydrogel

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Publication Date

Fall 2012


In this work, a new antifouling silica hydrogel was developed for potential biomedical applications. A zwitterionic polymer, poly(carboxybetaine methacrylate) (pCBMA), was produced via atom-transfer radical polymerization and was appended to the hydrogel network in a two-step acid-base-catalyzed sol-gel process. The pCBMA silica aerogels were obtained by drying the hydrogels under supercritical conditions using CO(2). To understand the effect of pCBMA on the gel structure, pCBMA silica aerogels with different pCBMA contents were characterized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and the surface area from Brauner-Emmet-Teller (BET) measurements. The antifouling property of pCBMA silica hydrogel to resist protein (fibrinogen) adsorption was measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). SEM images revealed that the particle size and porosity of the silica network decreased at low pCBMA content and increased at above 33 wt % of the polymer. The presence of pCBMA increased the surface area of the material by 91% at a polymer content of 25 wt %. NMR results confirmed that pCBMA was incorporated completely into the silica structure at a polymer content below 20 wt %. A protein adsorption test revealed a reduction in fibrinogen adsorption by 83% at 25 wt % pCBMA content in the hydrogel compared to the fibrinogen adsorption in the unmodified silica hydrogel.



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