Normal and frictional forces between surfaces bearing polyelectrolyte brushes

Uri Raviv*, Suzanne Giasson, Nir Kampf, Jean François Gohy, Robert Jérôme, Jacob Klein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Normal and shear forces were measured as a function of surface separation, D, between hydrophobized mica surfaces bearing layers of a hydrophobic- polyelectrolytic diblock copolymer, poly(methyl methacrylate)-block-poly(sodium sulfonated glycidyl methacrylate) copolymer (PMMA-b-PSGMA). The copolymers were attached to each hydrophobized surface by their hydrophobic PMMA moieties with the nonadsorbing polyelectrolytic PSGMA tails extending into the aqueous medium to form a polyelectrolyte brush. Following overnight incubation in 10 -4 w/v aqueous solution of the copolymer, the strong hydrophobic attraction between the hydrophobized mica surfaces across water was replaced by strongly repulsive normal forces between them. These were attributed to the osmotic repulsion arising from the confined counterions at long-range, together with steric repulsion between the compressed brush layers at shorter range. The corresponding shear forces on sliding the surfaces were extremely low and below our detection limit (±20-30 nN), even when compressed down to a volume fraction close to unity. On further compression, very weak shear forces (130 ± 30 nN) were measured due to the increase in the effective viscous drag experienced by the compressed, sliding layers. At separations corresponding to pressures of a few atmospheres, the shearing motion led to abrupt removal of most of the chains out of the gap, and the surfaces jumped into adhesive contact. The extremely low frictional forces between the charged brushes (prior to their removal) is attributed to the exceptional resistance to mutual interpenetration displayed by the compressed, counterion-swollen brushes, together with the fluidity of the hydration layers surrounding the charged, rubbing polymer segments.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8678-8687
Number of pages10
Issue number16
StatePublished - 19 Aug 2008


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