We report a new macromolecular architecture of dual functional block copolymer brushes on commercial thin-film composite (TFC) membranes for integrated "defending" and "attacking" strategies against biofouling. Mussel-inspired catechol chemistry is used for a convenient immobilization of initiator molecules to the membrane surface with the aid of polydopamine (PDA). Zwitterionic polymer brushes with strong hydration capacity and quaternary ammonium salt (QAS) polymer brushes with bactericidal ability are sequentially grafted on TFC membranes via activators regenerated by electron transfer-atom transfer radical polymerization (ARGET-ATRP), an environmentally benign and controlled polymerization method. Measurement of membrane intrinsic transport properties in reverse osmosis experiments shows that the modified TFC membrane maintains the same water permeability and salt selectivity as the pristine TFC membrane. Chemical force microscopy and protein/bacterial adhesion studies are carried out for a comprehensive evaluation of the biofouling resistance and antimicrobial ability, demonstrating low biofouling propensity and excellent bacterial inactivation for the modified TFC membrane. We conclude that this polymer architecture, with complementary "defending" and "attacking" capabilities, can effectively prevent the attachment of biofoulants and formation of biofilms and thereby significantly mitigate biofouling on TFC membranes.
- block copolymers
- thin-film composite (TFC) membranes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)