Berts I, Fragneto G, Hilborn J, Rennie AR
Eur Phys J E Soft Matter 36 (7) 70 [2013-07-00; online 2013-07-16]
The present paper investigates the structure and composition of grafted sodium hyaluronan at a solid-liquid interface using neutron reflection. The solvated polymer at the surface could be described with a density profile that decays exponentially towards the bulk solution. The density profile of the polymer varied depending on the deposition protocol. A single-stage deposition resulted in denser polymer layers, while layers created with a two-stage deposition process were more diffuse and had an overall lower density. Despite the diffuse density profile, two-stage deposition leads to a higher surface excess. Addition of calcium ions causes a strong collapse of the sodium hyaluronan chains, increasing the polymer density near the surface. This effect is more pronounced on the sample prepared by two-stage deposition due to the initial less dense profile. This study provides an understanding at a molecular level of how surface functionalization alters the structure and how surface layers respond to changes in calcium ions in the solvent.