Surface-initiated controlled radical copolymerizations of 2-dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate (DMAEMA), 2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl phosphorylcholine (MPC), 2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyltrimethylammonium chloride) (MTAC), and 3-sulfopropyl methacrylate potassium salt (SPMK) were carried out on a silicon wafer and glass ball to prepare polyelectrolyte brushes with excellent water wettability. The frictional coefficient of the polymer brushes was recorded on a ball-on-plate type tribometer by linear reciprocating motion of the brush specimen at a selected velocity of 1.5 × 10-3 m s-1 under a normal load of 0.49 N applied to the stationary glass ball (d = 10 mm) at 298 K. The poly(DMAEMA-co-MPC) brush partially cross-linked by bis(2-iodoethoxy)ethane maintained a relatively low friction coefficient around 0.13 under humid air (RH > 75%) even after 200 friction cycles. The poly(SPMK) brush revealed an extremely low friction coefficient around 0.01 even after 450 friction cycles. We supposed that the abrasion of the brush was prevented owing to the good affinity of the poly(SPMK) brush for water forming a water lubrication layer, and electrostatic repulsive interactions among the brushes bearing sulfonic acid groups. Furthermore, the poly(SPMK-co-MTAC) brush with a chemically cross-linked structure showed a stable low friction coefficient in water even after 1400 friction cycles under a normal load of 139 MPa, indicating that the cross-linking structure improved the wear resistance of the brush layer.
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