Surface Modification of Polymers

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An initiation to the modification of polymers

Modification or attachment of the protein or other molecules with synthetic polymers can provide many benefits for both in vivo and in vitro applications. Covalent coupling of polymers to large macromolecules can alter their surface and solubility properties, creating increased water solubility or even organic solvent solubility for molecules normally sparingly miscible in such environments. Polymer modification of foreign molecules can provide increased biocompatibility, reducing the immune response and increasing in vivo stability.


Polymers are modified to increase their properties susceptible to be applied in various applications. Scientists have been contriving different methods for years to modify polymers.

An occurrence of the synthetic polymers

For instance, several polymers are used in bone tissue engineering as implants or scaffolds to enhance cell attachment, proliferation, and activity, leading to shorter healing time of injured or missing tissue. Amongst the most common synthetic polymers used for these purposes are biodegradable polyesters Polylactic Acid (PLA), and inert polymers Polyether ether ketone (PEEK).

 Surface Modification Methods

The techniques used recently to modify polymer are broadly classified into two categories, such as,

  1. Physical Modification
  2. Chemical Modification

The following methods are studied under physical modification. These are listed as follows-

  1. Plasma spray coating
  2. Photochemical deposition
  3. Radiofrequency magnetron sputtering coating
  4. Aerosol deposition
  5. Electron beam deposition etc.

The following methods have been used for chemical modification. These are named as follows-

  1. Cross-linking
  2. Reduction
  3. Covalent Grafting

The chemical methods stated above are practiced through the following chemical processes shown as examples-

  1. Alkali Hydrolysis
  2. Aminolysis

Drawbacks of surface modifications

Recent methodologies to modify polymer mostly rely on adsorption, plasma or hydrolysis. The drawbacks include the followings-

  1. Formation of the non-cohesive layers on the surfaces
  2. Non-uniform modification
  3. Degradation of the polymer structure during modification

In addition, many of the methods do not allow for the modification of materials with complex geometries and are quite expensive, requiring specialized equipment.


About Md. Shafiul Islam

I have been working as an Assistant Professor since May 26, 2015.My research profile lies at the interface of biomaterial science, life sciences and engineering. I am particularly interested in the design of bionanocomposite materials for relevant clinical applications, e.g. in the context of fabricating and testing biocomposite materials to study the biocompatibility with human body to repair bone tissue. I joined as a lecturer at Noakahli Science and Technology University in May 26,2013. During my working as a Lecturer, I did research on waste water treatment. In connection to this, I applied nanotechnology to treat water as well as waste water. Prior to joining the Noakhali Science and Technology University , I joined as a Scientific Officer in Drug & Toxins Lab as well as Polymer Chemistry Lab at Bangladesh Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (BCSIR).Before doing scientific works, I did M.S. thesis work in the Institute of Polymer & Radiation Technology. I completed my undergraduate studies in Applied Chemistry & Chemical Engineering ( University of Dhaka, Bangladesh) and gained my M.S. in the same department, under the supervision of Professor Dr. Mohammed Mizanur Rahman (University of Dhaka, Bangladesh), where he investigated the effect of reinforcement of nano-materials into bio-polymer composite, morphology and the effect of bacteria in the bio-composite. . I achieved Dean's Award in recognition of my excellent academic and oerall performance in B.Sc. In Bangladesh,I was shortlisted for National Science & Technology (NST) Fellowship and was successful in securing funding from Ministry of Science & Technology, in collaboration with Professor Dr.Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, University of Dhaka, towards the manufacture of medical devices that are resistant to microbial colonization. I have authored 6 research papers and 1 conference paper (h-index: 2).

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