Fouling is a significant problem for the transport or printing of organic materials through small holes, as is happening in inkjet printing, high-resolution 3D printing, and various processing industries. The deposition of organic materials at the inside of e.g. print heads leads to extra cleaning steps and greatly reduces its lifetime and the quality of printing. Although the prevention of biofouling has been studied in great detail,  research on fouling by organic material in non-aqueous media is almost fully absent.  Initial results from our group indicate that fluorinated polymer brushes can withstand such fouling to a very high degree.  In addition, they provide the potential for self-repair via chain rearrangements at slightly elevated temperatures. 
This project aims to develop a self-healing antifouling polymer brush that can be implemented on the surface of print heads, and to explore the self-healing mechanism that they employ. In order to achieve this, fluorinated monomers will be synthesised and polymerised to produce a large variety of brushes. Antifouling and self-healing experiments will then show how well the brushes perform, after which successful brushes will be implemented in two applications. In the meantime, molecular modelling will shine a light on the self-healing mechanism of the polymer brushes.
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