The Art and Science of Polymer Brushes: Recent Developments in Patterning and Characterization Approaches


  • Guido Panzarasa Università del Piemonte Orientale 'Amedeo Avogadro' Department of Science and Technological Innovation viale T. Michel 11, 15100 Alessandria, Italy; Empa Materials Science and Technology Materials Meet Life Department Laboratory for Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles Lerchenfeldstrasse 5, CH-9014 St. Gallen, Switzerland.



Electrochemistry, Photocatalytic lithography, Polymer brushes, Positron annihilation spectroscopy


Polymer brushes are dense arrays of macromolecular chains tethered by one end at a surface. They are at the cutting edge of polymer nanotechnology since the dawn of controlled surface-initiated polymerization techniques unlocked new prospects for the synthesis of polymer brushes with tailorable properties. More recently, thanks to the growing interest in the use of brushes for the generation of functional surfaces, the need for advanced patterning and characterization approaches rapidly increased. Meeting these needs requires the contribution of experts from different disciplines: polymer chemistry, surface science, electrochemistry and particle physics. The focus of this review is to highlight recent developments in the field of polymer brushes, specifically the application of photocatalytic lithography as a versatile patterning strategy, the study of grafted-from polymer brushes by electrochemical methods and, most importantly, the introduction of positron annihilation spectroscopy as a powerful technique for the investigation of the structure of polymer brushes and of their composites with nanoparticles.