Degradation kinetics of oligo(ε-caprolactone) ultrathin films: Influence of crystallinity


The potential of using crystallinity as morphological parameter to control polyester degradation in acidic environments is explored in ultrathin films by Langmuir technique. Films of hydroxy or methacrylate end-capped oligo(ε-caprolactone) (OCL) are prepared at the air–water interface as a function of mean molecular area (MMA). The obtained amorphous, partially crystalline or highly crystalline ultrathin films of OCL are hydrolytically degraded at pH ~ 1.2 on water surface or on silicon surface as-transferred films. A high crystallinity reduces the hydrolytic degradation rate of the films on both water and solid surfaces. Different acceleration rates of hydrolytic degradation of semi-crystalline films are achieved either by crystals complete melting, partially melting, or by heating them below their melting temperatures. Semi-crystalline OCL films transferred via water onto a solid surface retain their crystalline morphology, degrade in a controlled manner, and are of interest as thermoswitchable coatings for cell substrates and medical devices.
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