Surface and anti-fouling properties of a polyampholyte hydrogel grafted onto a polyethersulfone membrane

Wei Zhang, Zhe Yang, Yair Kaufman, Roy Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-165
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
StatePublished - 1 May 2018


  • Hydrogel
  • Low-fouling
  • Membrane modification
  • Zwitterion polymer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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