As a novel functional surface, a self-oscillating polymer brush that undergoes autonomous, periodic swelling/deswelling during the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction has been developed. Although extensive research has revealed how the fundamental aspects of the BZ reaction can be regulated based on the surface design of the self-oscillating polymer brush, design strategies for the induction of mechanical oscillation remain unexplored. Herein, we investigated the graft density effects on the phase transition behavior, which is an important design parameter for the mechanical oscillation of the modified polymer. The self-oscillating polymer-modified substrates with controlled graft densities were prepared by immobilizing various compositions of an initiator and a noninitiator followed by surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization of the self-oscillating polymer chains. In addition to the characterization of each prepared substrate, atomic force microscopy (AFM) and digital holographic microscopy (DHM) were employed to evaluate the density effects on the static and dynamic surface structures. AFM revealed that equilibrium swelling as well as thermoresponsive behavior is profoundly affected by the graft density. Moreover, using DHM, autonomous mechanical oscillation was captured only on the self-oscillating polymer brush with adequate graft density. Notably, the oscillation amplitude (150 nm) and the period (20 s) in this study were superior to those in a previous report on the self-oscillating polymer modified through the grafting-to method by 10- and 3-fold, respectively. This study presents design guidelines for future applications, such as autonomous transport devices.
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