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Aqueous RAFT polymerization of N-isopropylacrylamide-mediated with hydrophilic macro-RAFT agent: Homogeneous or heterogeneous polymerization?

Authors

  • Xiaohui Wang,

    1. Key Laboratory of Functional Polymer Materials of the Ministry of Education, Institute of Polymer Chemistry, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
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  • Shentong Li,

    1. Key Laboratory of Functional Polymer Materials of the Ministry of Education, Institute of Polymer Chemistry, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
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  • Yang Su,

    1. Key Laboratory of Functional Polymer Materials of the Ministry of Education, Institute of Polymer Chemistry, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
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  • Fei Huo,

    1. Key Laboratory of Functional Polymer Materials of the Ministry of Education, Institute of Polymer Chemistry, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
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  • Wangqing Zhang

    Corresponding author
    1. Key Laboratory of Functional Polymer Materials of the Ministry of Education, Institute of Polymer Chemistry, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
    • Key Laboratory of Functional Polymer Materials of the Ministry of Education, Institute of Polymer Chemistry, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China

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Abstract

Aqueous RAFT polymerization of N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAM) mediated with hydrophilic macro-RAFT agent is generally used to prepare poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM)-based block copolymer. Because of the phase transition temperature of the block copolymer in water being dependent on the chain length of the PNIPAM block, the aqueous RAFT polymerization is much more complex than expected. Herein, the aqueous RAFT polymerization of NIPAM in the presence of the hydrophilic macro-RAFT agent of poly(dimethylacrylamide) trithiocarbonate is studied and compared with the homogeneous solution RAFT polymerization. This aqueous RAFT polymerization leads to the well-defined poly(dimethylacrylamide)-b-poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)-b-poly(dimethylacrylamide) (PDMA-b-PNIPAM-b-PDMA) triblock copolymer. It is found, when the triblock copolymer contains a short PNIPAM block, the aqueous RAFT polymerization undergoes just like the homogeneous one; whereas when the triblock copolymer contains a long PNIPAM block, both the initial homogeneous polymerization and the subsequent dispersion polymerization are involved and the two-stage ln([M]o/[M])-time plots are indicated. The reason that the PNIPAM chain length greatly affects the aqueous RAFT polymerization is discussed. The present study is anticipated to be helpful to understand the chain extension of thermoresponsive block copolymer during aqueous RAFT polymerization. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem, 2013

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