The blood-compatible polymer poly(2-methoxyethyl acrylate) (PMEA) is composed of nanometer-scale interfacial structures because of the phase separation of the polymer and water at the PMEA/phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) interface. We synthesized PMEA with four different molecular weights (19, 30, 44, and 183 kg/mol) to investigate the effect of the molecular weight on the interfacial structures and blood compatibility. The amounts of intermediate water and fibrinogen adsorption were not affected by the molecular weight of PMEA. In contrast, the degree of denaturation of adsorbed fibrinogen molecules and platelet adhesion increased as the molecular weight increased. Atomic force microscopy observation revealed that the domain size of the microphase separation structures observed at the PMEA/PBS interfaces drastically (nearly 3 times in the mean area of a domain) changed with the molecular weight. PMEA with a lower molecular weight showed a smaller polymer-rich domain size, as expected on the basis of the microphase separation of polymer-rich and water-rich domains. The small domain size suppressed the aggregation and denaturation of adsorbed fibrinogen molecules because only a few fibrinogen molecules were adsorbed on a domain. Increasing the domain size enhanced the denaturation of adsorbed fibrinogen molecules. Controlling the interfacial structures is crucial for ensuring the blood compatibility of polymer interfaces.
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