Synthesis of novel cylic monomers for hydrogel polymers
St. Pourcain, Christopher B.
The aim of the project was to synthesise hydrophilic derivatives of 1,2-dihydroxy-3,5-cyclohexadiene (DHCD) and to copolymerise these derivatives with 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA), to give a completely new range of hydrogel materials. It was thought that hydro gels incorporating hydrophilic derivatives of DHCD could have good mechanical properties and good water binding ability. A model compound for cis-DHCD was sought, as cis-DHCD was expensive and stable under only a narrow range of conditions. Catechol was found to be an excellent model for cis-DHCD, as 1H NMR spectroscopy indicated that both compounds contained eclipsed hydroxy groups and flat rings. A number of catechol derivatives were prepared in good yield, under non-acidic conditions at room temperature. The limited availabilty of cis-DHCD led to an investigation into synthesising hydrophilic derivatives of both cis and trans-DHCD indirectly. Hydrophobic derivatives were easily prepared by indirect routes, but it was found that hydrophilic derivatives were considerably more difficult to synthesise. A number of novel routes to both cis and trans-DHCD were also explored. Copolymerisation of diacetate, dimethylcarbonate and dipivalate derivatives of cis-DHCD with HEMA, to form a hitherto unknown group of hydrogels, is reported. Hydrogels containing these monomers showed significant improvements in both tensile strength and Youngs modulus, at both equivalent composition and water content, over the corresponding HEMA / styrene and HEMA / methyl methacrylate analogues. It was observed that derivatives of trans-DHCD polymerise with difficulty. 1H NMR studies indicated that both faces of the ring were shielded by the pendant groups thereby preventing efficient polymerisation of the trans monomers.
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