Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids

Water makes it hydrophobic: contraphilic wetting for polyurethanes with soft blocks having semifluorinated and 5,5-dimethylhydantoin side chains.

PMID 17190506


A series of polyurethanes with novel copolymer soft blocks display a new surface phenomenon, contraphilic wetting, in which the dry surface is hydrophilic and the wetted surface is hydrophobic. A precursor polymer was prepared with copolymer soft blocks containing semifluorinated (trifluoroethoxy, 3FOx, or pentafluoropropoxy, 5FOx) and bromomethyl functional pendant groups with 2:1, 1:1, and 1:2 semifluorinated/bromomethyl ratios. The hard block consists of isophorone diisocyanate (IPDI) and 1,4-butanediol (BD). 5,5-Dimethylhydantoin was introduced by the substitution of Br via reaction-on-polymer. The composition, structure, and percent of 5,5-dimethylhydantoin substitution for both the precursor and the 5,5-dimethylhydantoin-substituted polyurethanes were analyzed by 1H NMR. The difference between the advancing contact angle on the wetted surface and that on the dry surface (deltaC) is highest (38 degrees ) for the polyurethane with the highest ratio of semifluorinated/hydantoin soft block side chains. A model is proposed according to which contraphilic wetting is driven enthalpically by hydrogen bonding. For the dry surface, hydrogen bonding of 5,5-dimethylhydantoin amide carbonyl groups to methylene hydrogens of semifluorinated groups disrupts the normal surface concentration of semifluorinated groups, whereas the geometric arrangement of hydantoin N-H results in availability for hydrogen bonding with water. Upon exposure to water, amide groups switch from hydrogen bonding to -CH2CF2CF3 to stronger hydrogen bonding with water. As a result, semifluorinated groups are "released", and the surface becomes hydrophobic. Drying the coating (50 degrees C) reversibly restores hydrophilic character. Coatings stored at ambient temperature and humidity have deltaC values intermediate between dry and wet states.