Combined Experimental and Simulation Studies of Cross-Linked Polymer Brushes under Shear

MK Singh and CJ Kang and P Ilg and R Crockett and M Kroger and ND Spencer, MACROMOLECULES, 51, 10174-10183 (2018).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.8b01363

We have studied the effect of cross-linking on the tribological behavior of polymer brushes using a combined experimental and theoretical approach. Tribological and indentation measurements on poly(glycidyl methacrylate) brushes and gels in the presence of dimethylformamide solvent were obtained by means of atomic force microscopy. To complement experiments, we have performed corresponding molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of a generic bead spring model in the presence of explicit solvent and cross-linkers. Our study shows that cross-linking leads to an increase in friction between polymer brushes and a counter-surface. The coefficient of friction increases with increasing degree of cross- linking and decreases with increasing length of the cross-linker chains. We find that the brush-forming polymer chains in the outer layer play a significant role in reducing friction at the interface.

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