The synthesis of cationic polyl(ar-vinylbenzyl)trimethylammonium chloride)] [poly(VBTAC)] brushes was achieved via reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization and used for quantitative DNA immobilization. Initially, silicon surfaces were modified with RAFT chain transfer agent by utilizing an amide reaction involving a silicon wafer modified with allylamine and 4-cyanopentanoic acid dithiobenzoate (CPAD). Poly(VBTAC) brushes were then prepared via RAFT-mediated polymerization from the surface immobilized CPAD. Various characterization techniques including ellipsometry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, grazing angle-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy and contact-angle goniometer were used to characterize the immobilization of CPAD on the silicon wafer and the subsequent polymer formation. The addition of free CPAD was required for the formation of well-defined polymer brushes, which subsequently resulted in the presence of free polymer chains in solution. The free polymer chains were isolated and used to estimate the molecular weights and polydispersity index of chains attached to the surface. Moreover, from atomic force microscopy and ellipsometry measurements, it was also determined that the density of immobilized DNA on the cationic poly(VBTAC) brushes can be quantitatively controlled by adjusting the solution concentration. (c) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.