Functional and complex topological applications of plasma polymerized ultrathin films
Anderson, Kyle D.
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This study is focused on the fabrication of plasma polymerized ultrathin films and the elucidation of their unique properties with an emphasis on the solvent-less, dry polymerization process to introduce post-deposition functionality, robustness, and shape preservation. Two major classes of materials are the subject of this study: biological monomers, specifically the amino acids tyrosine and histidine and synthetic organic and inorganic monomers including acrylonitrile, 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate, N-isopropylacrylamide, titanium isopropoxide and ferrocene. The unique chemical and physical properties of highly cross-linked ultrathin plasma polymerized amino acid and synthetic polymer films are demonstrated along with their functional response and robustness on both planar and complex surface structures. The work emphasizes the facile ability of plasma polymerization to create unique, tailored ultrathin coatings. Chemical functionality retention (OH, NH₂) of the tyrosine and histidine amino acids is demonstrated by the subsequent mineralization of gold or titania nanoparticles on the plasma polymerized ultrathin films using a wet chemical approach. Inorganic nanoparticle mineralization is further investigated as a method to modify the optical properties of composite nanocoatings. Plasma co-polymerization of tyrosine and synthetic monomers is used to create nanocomposite coatings with unique surface functionalities, responsive behavior, optical characteristics and a high level of integration between monomers. The fabrication of novel plasma polymerized Janus microspheres, micropatterned substrates and free-standing films also demonstrate numerous plasma polymerized materials which exhibit unique structural properties. Overall, facile plasma polymerization of novel, functional ultrathin films and complex topological coatings having potential biocompatible and optical applications is established.