Surface-segregating zwitterionic copolymers to control poly(dimethylsiloxane) surface chemistry

Gokaltun A. A., Mazzaferro L., Yarmush M. L., Usta O. B., Asatekin A.

Journal of Materials Chemistry B, vol.12, no.1, pp.145-157, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1039/d3tb02164e
  • Journal Name: Journal of Materials Chemistry B
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Aerospace Database, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, Chimica, Communication Abstracts, Compendex, INSPEC, MEDLINE, Metadex, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.145-157
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: No


The use of microfluidic devices in biomedicine is growing rapidly in applications such as organs-on-chip and separations. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is the most popular material for microfluidics due to its ability to replicate features down to the nanoscale, flexibility, gas permeability, and low cost. However, the inherent hydrophobicity of PDMS leads to the adsorption of macromolecules and small molecules on device surfaces. This curtails its use in “organs-on-chip” and other applications. Current technologies to improve PDMS surface hydrophilicity and fouling resistance involve added processing steps or do not create surfaces that remain hydrophilic for long periods. This work describes a novel, simple, fast, and scalable method for improving surface hydrophilicity and preventing the nonspecific adsorption of proteins and small molecules on PDMS through the use of a surface-segregating zwitterionic copolymer as an additive that is blended in during manufacture. These highly branched copolymers spontaneously segregate to surfaces and rearrange in contact with aqueous solutions to resist nonspecific adsorption. We report that mixing a minute amount (0.025 wt%) of the zwitterionic copolymer in PDMS considerably reduces hydrophobicity and nonspecific adsorption of proteins (albumin and lysozyme) and small molecules (vitamin B12 and reactive red). PDMS blended with these zwitterionic copolymers retains its mechanical and physical properties for at least six months. Moreover, this approach is fully compatible with existing PDMS device manufacture protocols without additional processing steps and thus provides a low-cost and user-friendly approach to fabricating reliable biomicrofluidics.