Stepwise Thermo-Responsive Amino Acid-Derived Triblock Vinyl Polymers: ATRP Synthesis of Polymers, Aggregation, and Gelation Properties via Flower-Like Micelle Formation

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Nobuyuki Higashi ; Sho Matsubara ; Shin-nosuke Nishimura ; Tomoyuki Koga (2018)
  • Publisher: MDPI AG
  • Journal: Materials, volume 11, issue 3 (issn: 1996-1944, eissn: 1996-1944)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3390/ma11030424, pmc: PMC5873003
  • Subject: QC120-168.85 | LCST | Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General) | Technology | Article | TA1-2040 | injectable hydrogel | ABA-type triblock copolymer | T | amino acid–based vinyl polymer | Electrical engineering. Electronics. Nuclear engineering | TK1-9971 | Microscopy | QH201-278.5 | Descriptive and experimental mechanics | flower-like micelle | self-healing

Novel thermo-responsive ABA-type triblock copolymers (poly(NAAMen-b-NAGMe240-b-NAAMen), n = 18–72) composed of naturally occurring amino acid–based vinyl polymer blocks such as poly(N-acryloyl-l-alanine methyl ester (poly(NAAMe)) as the A segment and poly(N-acryloyl-glycine methylester)(poly(NAGMe)) as the B segment have been synthesized by the atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). Their thermal behaviors were analyzed in dilute aqueous solutions by turbidimetry. The turbidity curves provided two-step LCST transitions, and a flower-like micelle formation was confirmed at the temperature region between the first and second LCST transitions by dynamic light scattering, AFM and TEM. At higher copolymer concentrations, hydrogels were obtained at temperatures above the first LCST due to network formation induced with the flower-like micelles as cross-linker. The hydrogels were found to be switched to a sol state when cooled below the first LCST. These hydrogels also exhibited self-healable and injectable capabilities, which were evaluated by rheological measurements.
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