Thermophilic films and fibers from photo cross-linkable UCST-type polymers†
Photo cross-linkable thermoresponsive polymers of UCST-type based on acrylamide (AAm) and acrylonitrile (AN) useful for preparing thermophilic hydrogel films and fibers are presented. The polymers prepared via free radical and reversible addition fragmentation chain-transfer (RAFT) polymerization methods using N-(4-benzoylphenyl)acrylamide (BPAm) as photo cross-linkable comonomers provided highly stable UCST-type phase transition in water reproducible without hysteresis for many cycles. The cloud point could be manipulated by varying the acrylonitrile amount in the feed. Chemically cross-linked hydrogel films and nanofibers (average diameter 500 nm) were successfully prepared from the ter-copolymers by solution casting and electrospinning followed by UV irradiation. These hydrogels showed a continuous positive volume transition behavior in water with increasing temperature that was utilized for the design of microactuators.