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Keywords:

  • atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP);
  • azo polymers;
  • block copolymers;
  • liquid-crystalline polymers (LCP);
  • polypeptide

Abstract

Well-defined azobenzene-containing side-chain liquid crystalline diblock copolymers composed of poly[6-(4-methoxy-azobenzene-4′-oxy) hexyl methacrylate] (PMMAZO) and poly(γ-benzyl-L-glutamate) (PBLG) were synthesized by click reaction from alkyne- and azide-functionalized homopolymers. The alkyne-terminated PMMAZO homopolymers were synthesized by copper-mediated atom transfer radical polymerization with a bromine-containing alkyne bifunctional initiator, and the azido-terminated PBLG homopolymers were synthesized by ring-opening polymerization of γ-benzyl-L-glutamate-N-carboxyanhydride in DMF at room temperature using an amine-containing azide initiator. The thermotropic phase behavior of PMMAZO-b-PBLG diblock copolymers in bulk were investigated using differential scanning calorimetry and polarized light microscopy. The PMMAZO-b-PBLG diblock copolymers exhibited a smectic phase and a nematic phase when the weight fraction of PMMAZO block was more than 50%. Photoisomerization behavior of PMMAZO-b-PBLG diblock copolymers and the corresponding PMMAZO homopolymers in solid film and in solution were investigated using UV–vis. In solution, trans–cis isomerization of diblock copolymers was slower than that of the corresponding PMMAZO homopolymers. These results may provide guidelines for the design of effective photoresponsive anisotropic materials. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem, 2013