Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) could be used to improve the antifouling properties of the fouling release coatings based on polyurethane (PU). A series of polydimethylsiloxane-modified polyurethane coatings were synthesized with various PDMS contents, using the solvent-free method. The effects of PDMS content and seawater immersion on the chain structure and surface morphology were investigated by confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). Based on the measurements of contact angles of deionized water and diiodomethane, surface free energies of the coatings were estimated according to the Owens two-liquid method. The PDMS-modified polyurethane exhibited lower surface free energy and a lower glass transition temperature than polyurethane. The presence of PDMS increased the degree of microphase separation, and enhanced the water resistance of the coatings. The optimum amount of PDMS reduced the elastic modulus and increased the ductility of the coating. The presence of PDMS benefited the removal of weakly attached organisms. Panel tests in the Yellow Sea demonstrated the antifouling activity of the PDMS-modified polyurethane.
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