SYNTHESIS, PROPERTIES, AND APPLICATIONS OF FUNCTIONAL POLYMER FILMS
Functional polymers are macromolecules with unique properties that depend on the presence of specific chemical moieties within their structure. Such polymer chains can have useful intrinsic properties (e.g. specific wettability, selective binding of particular species), respond to external stimuli (e.g. shifts in temperature, pH conditions, concentrations of molecules and ions), and self-assemble into supramolecular structures. Thin films of functional polymers are produced for a myriad of applications, including membranes, sorption media and scaffolds, sensors, organic electronics, barrier, dielectric, bio-active, non-fouling, or lubricative coatings over substrates and devices, etc. This dissertation encompasses synthesis of polymer films containing catechol moieties via surface-initiated activator regenerated by electron transfer atom transfer radical polymerization (Si-ARGET ATRP) and post-polymerization modification and their proof-of-concept application for sorption and sensing of metal ions; a new method for synthesizing tethered and freestanding films with various functionalities, with emphasis on the properties of polynorbornene films containing metal-chelating hydroxamic acid functional groups; investigation into cure kinetics, properties, and morphology of epoxy resin blends with 1-butyl-3-methyl-imidizolium-tetrafluoroborate ([BMIM]BF4) ionic liquid (previously used as water-resistant electrolytes for composite structural supercapacitors); and layer-by-layer assembly and characterization of surfactant-intercalated polyelectrolyte thin films used as separation layers in loose nanofiltration membranes.