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Effect of Polymer Surface Modification on Polymer–Protein Interaction via Hydrophilic Polymer Grafting

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ABSTRACT: 

Surface modification of flat sheet ultrafiltration membranes, polyethersulfone (PES), was investigated to improve the hydrophilicity of the membrane surface thereby reducing adsorption of the proteins onto the membrane. Grafting of hydrophilic polymers onto UV/ozone-treated PES was used to improve the hydrophilicity of the commercial PES membranes. Hydrophilic polymers, that is, poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA), polyethylene glycol (PEG), and chitosan, were employed to graft onto PES membrane surfaces because of their excellent hydrophilic property. The surfaces of modified PES membranes were characterized by contact angle measurement, FTIR, and AFM. The FTIR spectra indicated that PES membranes were successfully modified by grafting of the hydrophilic polymers. The modified PES membranes showed 20% to 50% reduction in contact angle measurements in comparison with those of the virgin PES membrane. The tapping mode AFM technique was employed to investigate the changes of surface topography, cross-section, and root mean square roughness of the modified PES membrane surfaces. The modified PES membranes showed elevated roughness (ranging from 7.0 to 25.7 nm) compared with that of the virgin PES membrane (2.1 nm). It is concluded that grafting of PVA, PEG, or chitosan onto UV/ozone-treated PES membranes increases hydrophilicity and lowers protein adsorption by 20% to 60% compared to the virgin PES membrane. Among the 3 hydrophilic polymers studied, PEG showed the most favorable result in terms of contact angle and protein adsorption.
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Keywords: AFM; FTIR; UV/ozone treatment; membrane fouling; polymer grafting; protein adsorption

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2008

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