We report a new facile strategy for quickly synthesizing poly(2-hydroxyethyl acrylate-co-vinyl versatate) amphiphilic gels with excellent physicochemical properties by frontal free-radical polymerization. The appropriate amounts of 2-hydroxyethyl acrylate, vinyl versatate (VeoVa 9) and ammonium persulfate initiator were mixed together at ambient temperature in the presence of N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone as the solvent medium. Frontal polymerization (FP) was initiated by heating the wall of the tube with a soldering iron. Once initiated, no further energy was required for the polymerization to occur. The dependence of the front velocity and front temperature on the initiator concentration was investigated. The front temperatures were between 132 and 157 °C, depending on the initiator concentration. The morphology, swelling rate, and swelling behavior of amphiphilic gels prepared via FP were comparatively investigated on the basis of scanning electron microscopy, water contact angle, and swelling measurements. Results show that the amphiphilic gels prepared via FP behave with good swelling capacity both in water and organic solvents. The FP can be exploited as an alternative means for synthesis of amphiphilic gels with additional advantages of fast and efficient way. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem 48: 823–831, 2010
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