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Issue 11, 2014
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RAFT polymerization of hydroxy-functional methacrylic monomers under heterogeneous conditions: effect of varying the core-forming block

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Abstract

Statistical copolymerization of a 1 : 1 molar ratio of a water-miscible monomer (2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate, HEMA) with a water-immiscible monomer (4-hydroxybutyl methacrylate, HBMA) has been conducted in water via reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization using a water-soluble poly(glycerol monomethacrylate) macromolecular chain transfer agent (PGMA macro-CTA). In principle, such a hybrid formulation might be expected to be intermediate between RAFT dispersion polymerization and RAFT emulsion polymerization. Under such circumstances, it is of particular interest to examine whether both monomers are actually consumed and, if so, whether their rates of reaction are comparable. Given the water-solubility of both the PGMA macro-CTA and the free radical azo initiator, it is perhaps counter-intuitive that the water-immiscible HBMA is initially consumed significantly faster than the water-miscible HEMA, as judged by 1H NMR studies of this copolymerization. However, both comonomers are eventually almost fully consumed at 70 °C. A detailed phase diagram has been constructed for this RAFT formulation that enables reproducible syntheses of various pure copolymer morphologies, including spheres, worms and vesicles. It is emphasized that utilizing a 1 : 1 HEMA/HBMA molar ratio produces a core-forming statistical copolymer block that is isomeric with the poly(2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate) (PHPMA) core-forming block previously synthesized via RAFT aqueous dispersion polymerization (see A. Blanazs et al., Macromolecules, 2012, 45, 5099–5107). Hence it is rather remarkable that the thermo-responsive behavior of PGMA–P(HBMA-stat-HEMA) statistical block copolymer worm gels differs qualitatively from that exhibited by PGMA–PHPMA diblock copolymer worm gels.

Graphical abstract: RAFT polymerization of hydroxy-functional methacrylic monomers under heterogeneous conditions: effect of varying the core-forming block

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Publication details

The article was received on 12 Feb 2014, accepted on 05 Mar 2014 and first published on 06 Mar 2014


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4PY00203B
Citation: Polym. Chem., 2014,5, 3643-3655
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    RAFT polymerization of hydroxy-functional methacrylic monomers under heterogeneous conditions: effect of varying the core-forming block

    L. P. D. Ratcliffe, A. Blanazs, C. N. Williams, S. L. Brown and S. P. Armes, Polym. Chem., 2014, 5, 3643
    DOI: 10.1039/C4PY00203B

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