Elucidating and eliminating biosensor fouling via 3D nanostructured polymer brush microarrays


The non-specific surface adsorption of biomolecules (i.e. fouling) from biological fluids is an ever-present obstacle for many applications. Polymer brush surfaces have the ability to resist such fouling, however, their fouling resistance is severely degraded when made functional for biosensing. Furthermore, little is known on the fouling mechanisms of functionalized brushes, nor how deep into the brush fouling persists. Here, using microfluidic-based methods having unprecedented control over spatiotemporal polymerization conditions, we will synthesize polymer brushes having compositions unobtainable via current methods. This method, for the first time, will allow the synthesis of polymer brushes having a tailored 3D nanostructured composition. Polymer brush microarrays, having 100s of spots, each with a unique composition and structure, will lead to discoveries of unknown polymer brush properties, novel materials, and furthermore, when used as a tool, will extend the knowledge base concerning molecular mechanisms of biological fouling.