Hydrophilic coatings have recently emerged as a new approach to avoiding the adhesion of (bio)organisms on surfaces immersed in water. In these coatings the hydrophilic character is crucial for the anti-fouling (AF) performance. However, this property can be rapidly lost due to the inevitable damages which occur at the surface, reducing the long-term effectiveness of the AF functionality. We report hydrophilic polycarbonate-poly(ethylene glycol) methyl ether (mPEG) polyurethane coatings with tunable hydrophilic properties as well as an excellent and long-term stability in water. The coatings exhibit low protein adhesion values and are able to self-replenish their hydrophilicity after damage, due to the existence of a reservoir of hydrophilic dangling chains incorporated in the bulk. The combination of low Tg and sufficient mobility of the mPEG dangling chains (enabled by chains with higher molecular weight) proved to be crucial to ensure autonomous surface hydrophilicity recovery when the coatings were immersed in water. This coatings and design approach offers new possibilities towards high-performance AF coatings with an extended service life-time which can be used in several major applications areas, such as marine and biomedical coatings, with major economic and environmental benefits.
- Dangling chains
- Hydrophilic coatings