Highly crystalline PCL ultrathin films as thermally switchable biomaterial coatings


Semi-crystalline oligomers are explored as functionalized thermoswitchable coatings for modification of biomaterials surface. Highly crystalline oligo(ε-caprolactone) (OCL) films are prepared at the air–water interface by the Langmuir technique, which consist of tightly packed single crystals. Their morphology and melting temperature can be tuned by the chemical structure of the OCL end-groups (hydroxy or methacrylate) and by the crystallization temperature (12 or 21 °C) as physical parameter. This demand of high crystallite density and adjustable morphology of coatings is not met by conventional methodologies for preparing thin films, e.g., spin coating, spray coating, or solvent evaporation. The high crystallinity reduces the enzymatic degradation rate of the films on both water and solid surfaces. The high density of methacrylate end-groups at the crystal surfaces enables post-functionalization, which was demonstrated using fluorescein dimethacrylate as chemically linked label. The thermoswitching behavior (melting and recrystallization) of fluorescein functionalized, highly crystalline OCL films shows temperature-dependent distribution of the chemically linked fluorescein moieties, which are accumulated on the surfaces of crystals, and homogeneously dispersed when the crystals are molten. Thermally switchable highly crystalline films are relevant for cell substrates modulating adhesion at the biointerface or for coatings as barrier layer influencing the degradation rate.
QR Code: Link to publication