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Gaps in adhesion
Date:11/17/2008

counterparts.

"We see our polymers as chains of single binding sites linked with very loose springs," says Wolfgang Tremel. When they peel them off, he and his team measure only the force with which a single binding site is anchored to the surface. How closely the adhesive links in the chain follow each other is then irrelevant.

The density of the binding sites would have an effect if a weight was pulling evenly across the whole length of the polymer and not from one end. "In practice, this only plays a part when the surface is completely level," explains Butt. "Most surfaces are very rough at nano level, so that a weight on one end always pulls more strongly there than on the other."

The scientists have designed their experiment to correspond to this detachment process. They apply a single layer of the polymer to a titanium surface. Using the titanium tip on an atomic force microscope, which only measures a few nanometers, they pick up a single chain of the polymer in the same way someone would pick up a thread from a table with their finger. Then they pull the tip away from the surface and measure the force required. They need 67 piconewtons to break the bond between the titanium surface and a dopa group on the polymer. As the polymer itself behaves like a loose spring, the force hardly falls before the next bond is broken, but remains almost constant.

The researchers now want to use the findings from this experiment to manufacture polymers with binding sites for different materials. The newly established Max Planck Graduate Center will be particularly suitable in future for pursuing this area of research as it will specialize in interdisciplinary projects of this nature.


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Contact: Prof. Hans-Juergen Butt
butt@mpip-mainz.mpg.de
49-613-137-9110
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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