Synthesis and characterization of star polymers and cross-linked star polymer model networks containing a novel, silicon-based, hydrolyzable cross-linker
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An acid-labile dimethacrylate cross-linker, dimethyldi(methacryloyloxy-1-ethoxy)silane (DMDMAES), was synthesized by the reaction of 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) and dichlorodimethylsilane in the presence of triethylamine. Group transfer polymerization (GTP) was employed to use this cross-linker in the preparation of six hydrolyzable polymer structures: one neat cross-linker network, one randomly cross-linked network of methyl methacrylate (MMA), two star-shaped polymers of MMA, and two cross-linked star polymer model networks (CSPMNs) of MMA. A nonhydrolyzable CSPMN of MMA, based on a stable cross-linker, was also synthesized. Gel permeation chromatography (GPC) in tetrahydrofuran (THF) confirmed the narrow molecular weight distributions (MWDs) of the linear polymer precursors and demonstrated the increase in molecular weight (MW) upon each successive addition of cross-linker or monomer. Characterization by static light scattering (SLS) and GPC showed that star polymers with DMDMAES cores bear a relatively small number of arms, around 7. All star polymers and polymer networks were hydrolyzed using hydrochloric acid in THF. While the MWs of the products from the hydrolysis of the star polymers, the neat cross-linker network, and the randomly cross-linked network were as expected, those from the CSPMNs were of a much higher than expected MW, indicating extensive star-star coupling.
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