Functional group gradients were prepared on low-density polyethylene (PE) sheets. The surface density of grafted functional groups was gradually changed along the sample length by way of corona discharge treatment with gradually increasing power following graft copolymerization of acrylic acid (AA), sodium p-styrene sulfonate (NaSS), or N,N-dimethyl aminopropyl acrylamide (DMAPAA). AA and NaSS are negatively chargeable and DMAPAA is positively chargeable in phosphate-buffered saline or plasma solution at pH 7.3-7.4. The prepared functional group gradient surfaces were characterized by measurement of the water contact angle, by electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis, and by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy in the attenuated total reflectance mode. All these measurements indicated that the functional groups were grafted onto the PE surfaces with gradually increasing density. The platelets adhered to the functional group gradient surfaces along the sample length were counted and observed by scanning electron microscopy. It was observed that the platelet adhesion to the gradient surfaces decreased gradually with the increasing surface density of functional groups. This may be related to the hydrophilicity of the surfaces. The DMAPAA-grafted surface showed a large amount of platelet adhesion, probably due to its positive charge character, while the AA-grafted surface, which is charged negatively, showed poor platelet adhesion. However, the NaSS-grafted surface, which is also charged negatively, showed a relatively large amount of platelet adhesion. This may be associated with the existence of an aromatic ring close to the ionizable group in NaSS. It seems that surface functional groups and their charge character, as well as wettability, play important roles for platelet adhesion.
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