Structural Analysis and Protein Functionalization of Electroconductive Polypyrrole Films Modified by Plasma Immersion Ion Implantation
Conducting polymers are good candidates for electronic biomedical devices such as biosensors, artificial nerves, and electrodes for brain tissue. Functionalizing the conducting polymer surface with bioactive molecules can limit adverse immune reactions to the foreign body and direct tissue integration. In this work, we demonstrate a simple one-step method to attach biomolecules covalently to a conductive polymer. Electrochemically synthesized polypyrrole was activated using plasma immersion ion implantation (PIII) in nitrogen. A short treatment with relatively low ion fluence (20 s) was found to enable direct covalent immobilization of protein upon incubation in a protein solution, while the protein is easily removed from untreated polypyrrole by washing in buffer. The covalent nature of the protein immobilization was demonstrated by its resistance to elution when repeatedly washed with SDS detergent. Changes in the surface properties and their evolution with time after PIII activation were studied by a combination of attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spec troscopy (ATR-FTIR), Raman spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), atomic force microscopy (AFM), cyclic voltammetry, and water contact angle measurements. Notable changes in the chemistry of the modified layer in polypyrrole include the appearance of nitrile groups that gradually disappear with time and oxidation of the surface that increases over time in air. The kinetics of surface energy are consistent with the generation of radicals in the modified layer that are lost predominantly through oxidation. The conductivity of the modified surface layer (64 nm in thickness) decreases for low fluence treatments and is partially restored after high fluence treatment. This simple surface modification process opens up the possibility of creating biologically active interfaces for electro-stimulating biomedical devices and electrical sensing of neurological processes.