Regulated phase separation in nanopatterned protein-polysaccharide thin films by spin coating

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Banta, Russell A.
Collins, Timothy W.
Curley, Ricky
O'Connell, John
Young, Paul W.
Holmes, Justin D.
Flynn, Eoin J.
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Patterned films are essential to the commonplace technologies of modern life. However, they come at high cost to the planet, being produced from non-renewable, petrochemical-derived polymers and utilising substrates that require harsh, top-down etching techniques. Biopolymers offer a cheap, sustainable and viable alternative easily integrated into existing production techniques. We describe a simple method for the production of patterned biopolymer surfaces and the assignment of each biopolymer domain, which allows for selective metal incorporation used in many patterning applications. Protein and polysaccharide domains were identified by selective etching and metal incorporation; a first for biopolymer blends. Morphologies akin to those observed with synthetic polymer blends and block-copolymers were realised across a large range of feature diameter (200 nm to - 20 μm) and types (salami structure, continuous, porous and droplet-matrix). The morphologies of the films were tuneable with simple recipe changes, highlighting that these biopolymer blends are a feasible alternative to traditional polymers when patterning surfaces. The protein to polysaccharide ratio, viscosity, casting method and spin speed were found to influence the final film morphology. High protein concentrations generally resulted in porous structures whereas higher polysaccharide concentrations resulted in spherical discontinuous domains. Low spin speed conditions resulted in growth of protuberances ranging from 200 nm to 22 μm in diameter, while higher spin speeds resulted in more monodisperse features, with smaller maximal diameter structures ranging from 300 nm to 12.5 μm.
Biopolymer , Morphology , Ostwald ripening , Patterning , Phase separation , Polysaccharide , Protein
Banta, R. A., Collins, T. W., Curley, R., O'Connell, J., Young, P. W., Holmes, J. D. and Flynn, E. J. (2020) 'Regulated phase separation in nanopatterned protein-polysaccharide thin films by spin coating', Colloids and Surfaces B-Biointerfaces, 190, 110967 (11 pp). doi: 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2020.110967