We report on the formation of counterpropagating density gradients in poly([2-dimethylaminoethyl] methacrylate) (PDMAEMA) brushes featuring spatially varying quaternized and betainized units. Starting with PDMAEMA brushes with constant grafting density and degree of polymerization, we first generate a density gradient of quaternized units by directional vapor reaction involving methyl iodide. The unreacted DMAEMA units are then betainized through gaseous-phase betainization with 1,3-propanesultone. The gas reaction of PDMAEMA with 1,3-propanesultone eliminates the formation of byproducts present during the liquid-phase modification. We use the counterpropagating density gradients of quaternized and betainized PDMAEMA brushes in antibacterial and antifouling studies. Completely quaternized and betainized brushes exhibit antibacterial and antifouling behaviors. Samples containing 12% of quaternized and 85% of betainized units act simultaneously as antibacterial and antifouling surfaces.
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