Materials with protein resistant properties are increasingly sought after for their potential application as low-fouling surface coatings. Hydrophilic coatings with improved resistance to protein fouling have been prepared from zwitterionic carboxybetaine (CB) functionalized silica nanoparticles (SiNPs). The authors report three methods of coating preparation via direct tethering of CB to predeposited particle films, a two-step surface functionalization process, and deposition of CB functionalized particle dispersions. The pH at which aqueous CB solutions were prepared and reacted to SiNPs was found to drastically influence the mechanism of CB attachment and affect the protein resistance of the resultant coatings. Depending on the method of coating preparation, protein binding to functionalized particle coatings was reduced by up to 94% compared to unfunctionalized SiNP control surfaces. As a result, all three methods offer simple and scalable fabrication routes for the generation of hydrophilic, zwitterionic interfaces with improved inhibition to protein fouling.
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