Polycarbonate (PC) is a popular consumer plastic due to its light weight, optical clarity, mechanical strength, and temperature stability. Though nontoxic and biocompatible, its inherent hydrophobicity limits its potential in applications that require hydrophilicity or use in the body. This work presents a facile method to chemically modify PC surfaces with superhydrophilic polymer brushes. A method is developed to immobilize reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) agents on PC substrates. From these PC-tethered RAFT initiators, hydrophilic polymer brushes are grown under aqueous conditions, visible light, and ambient atmosphere. The resulting films decrease PC surface water contact angles (θ) to as low as θ < 10° (superhydrophilic) by continuous growth or sequential extension. This work expands the realm of possibility for uses of PC from anti-fogging lenses to durable biological devices, allowing scientists and engineers to take advantage of the many attractive physical properties of PC without limitations of hydrophobicity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Materials Chemistry