Two pieces of aluminum were coated with one of our polymers of interest to see how well the gel layer would stay on the metal. Polymers like these don't inherently want to stick to metal ( think jello on a ceramic plate). One of our ideas is to use a chemical initiator that will help the polymer stick to the metal through binding the two together.
In this first test one aluminum square was coated with just the polymer while the other used the initiator for its binding properties and then was coated with the polymer. After the gels had been coated on the aluminum, both metal pieces were put in water to see if there would be any separation between the metal and the polymer. Our hope is that the initiator works as intended and keeps some of the polymer attached to the metal. At first glance it looks like the polymer layer has lifted from both pieces of metal. On closer inspection a thin layer of material is left on the initiator coated aluminum piece. After constant soaking and physical scrubbing along with a rinse in ethanol the residue left on the aluminum piece would not come off. We are hopeful that the initiator worked how we intended but further tests will need to be done to make sure this residue has the same properties as our larger gels. Upcoming tests will include using other monomers to make sure that the initiator binds to all our potential chemistries as well as testing an aluminum coupon with just the initiator vs the initiator and gel to make sure the residue is actually still our polymer.