Better understanding of the viscoelastic properties of protein-repellent polymer layers


Investigation of the viscoelastic and surface properties of cross-linked protein-repellent polymer layers for biological applications.


Dr Chiara Neto

Research Location

School of Chemistry

Program Type



Protein repellent coatings are widely applied to biomedical devices in order to reduce the nonspecific adhesion of plasma proteins, which can lead to failure of the device. Neutral, hydrophilic polymers with good antifouling properties are often used in these applications. In this project, we aim to characterise the surface and viscoelastic properties of these polymer coatings that maximise protein-repellence and maintain mechanical properties suitable to applications.1,2 The project will start with the investigation of the degree of thermal cross-linking of PNVP films using quartz crystal microbalance, and their properties in different solvent quality, which can be tailored by controlling the annealing temperature, with no need for additional chemical treatment or irradiation.

Thermal cross-linking of PNVP films could be exploited in a wide range of biotechnological applications to give antifouling properties to objects of any size, essentially making PNVP films a viable alternative to high-tech surface modification techniques.

  1. Telford, AM; James, M; Meagher, L and Neto, C. Thermally cross-linked PNVP films as antifouling coatings for biomedical applications. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2 (8), 2399-2408, 2010. DOI: 10.1021/am100406j
  2. Telford, AM; Thickett, SC; James, M and Neto, C. Competition between dewetting and cross-linking in poly(N-vinylpyrrolidone)/polystyrene biolayer films. Langmuir, 27 (23), 14207-14217, 2011. DOI: 10.1021/la2029577

Additional Information

The project primarily involves performing experiments using a wide range of surface modification techniques, and surface characterisation techniques such as quartz crystal microbalance (QCM-D), atomic force microscopy (AFM), contact angle goniometry, ellipsometry, and grazing angle FTIR. The modification of solid surfaces using advanced surface coatings will be performed both in the lab and through external collaborations. Interested students should source their own scholarship, as detailed on the University’s website.

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Physical chemistry, surface and materials science, interfaces, quartz crystal mucrobalance, protein-repellent, biocompatibility, cross-linking, polymer films, nanostructured coatings, superhydrophobic surfaces, micro-patterning, wettability.

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1586

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