University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Molecular Liquids
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Oct 2021

Abstract

Graft copolymers with brush-type architectures are explored containing poly (ethylene glycol) methacrylates copolymerized with “thermoresponsive” monomers which impart lower critical solution temperatures to the polymer. Initially, the chemical structure of the thermoresponsive polymer is explored, synthesizing materials containing N-isopropyl acrylamide, N,N-diethylacrylamide and diethylene glycol methyl ether methacrylate. Thermoresponsive graftcopolymers containing di(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate (DEGMA) exhibited phase transition temperature close to physiological conditions (ca 30 °C). The effect of polymer composition was explored, including molecular weight, PEG-methacrylate (PEGMA) terminal functionality and PEGMA/DEGMA ratios. Molecular weight exhibited complex relationships with phase behavior, where lower molecular weight systems appeared more stable above lower critical solution temperatures (LCST), but a lower limit was identified. PEGMA/DEGMA feed was able to control transition temperature, with higher PEGMA ratios elevating thermal transition. It was found that PEGMA terminated with methoxy functionality formed stablecolloidal structures above LCST, whereas those the hydroxy termini generally formed two phase sedimented systems when heated. Two thermoresponsive DEGMA-based graft polymers, poly(PEGMA7-ran-DEGMA170) and poly(PEGMA1-ran-DEGMA38), gave interesting temperature-dependent rheology, transitioning to a viscous state upon heating. These materials may find application in forming thermothickening systems which modify rheology upon exposure to the body’s heat

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