Surface and anti-fouling properties of a polyampholyte hydrogel grafted onto a polyethersulfone membrane Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Zwitterion polymers have anti-fouling properties; therefore, grafting new zwitterions to surfaces, particularly as hydrogels, is one of the leading research directions for preventing fouling. Specifically, polyampholytes, polymers of random mixed charged subunits with a net-electric charge, offer a synthetically easy alternative for studying new zwitterions with a broad spectrum of charged moieties. Here, a novel polyampholyte hydrogel was grafted onto the surface of polyethersulfone membrane by copolymerizing a mixture of vinylsulfonic acid (VSA) and [2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl]trimethylammonium chloride (METMAC) as the negatively and positively charged monomers, respectively, using various monomer ratios in the polymerization solution, and with N,N′-methylenebisacrylamide as the crosslinker. The physicochemical, morphological and anti-fouling properties of the modified membranes were systematically investigated. Hydrophilic hydrogels were successfully grafted using monomers at different molar ratios. A thin-film zwitterion hydrogel (∼90 nm) was achieved at a 3:1 [VSA:METMAC] molar ratio in the polymerization solution. Among all examined membranes, the zwitterion polyampholyte-modified membrane demonstrated the lowest adsorption of proteins, humic acid, and sodium alginate. It also had low fouling and high flux recovery following filtration with a protein or with an extracellular polymeric substance solution. These findings suggest that this polyampholyte hydrogel is applicable as a low fouling surface coating.

publication date

  • January 1, 2018