This paper introduces a novel and versatile method of grafting protein and cell-resistant poly(poly ethylene glycol methyl ether methacrylate) (PPEGMEMA) brushes on conducting Au surface. The process started with the electrochemical deposition and full characterization of an electro-active chain transfer agent (CTA) on the Au surface. The electrochemical behavior of the CTA was investigated by cyclic voltammetry (CV) while the deposition and stability of the CTA on the surface were confirmed by ellipsometry, contact angle, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The capability of the electrodeposited CTA to mediate surface-initiated reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (SI-RAFT) polymerization on both the polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA; model polymer) and PPEGMEMA brushes was demonstrated by the increase in thicknesses of the films after polymerization. Contact angles also decreased with the incorporation of the more hydrophilic brushes. Significant changes in the morphologies of the films before and after polymerization were also observed with atomic force microscopy (AFM) analyses. Furthermore, XPS results showed an increase in the O 1s peak intensity relative to C 1s after polymerizations, which confirmed the grafting of polyethyleneglycol (PEG) bearing brushes. The ability of the PPEGMEMA-modified Au surface to resist nonspecific adhesion of proteins and cells was monitored and confirmed by XPS, ellipsometry, contact angle, AFM, and fluorescence imaging. The new method presented has potential application as robust protein and cell-resistant coatings for electrically conducting electrodes and biomedical devices.
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