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Nonlinear depression of the lower critical solution temperatures in aqueous solutions of thermo-sensitive random copolymers


Correspondence to: H. Kojima (E-mail:


We develop a theoretical model of cooperative hydration to clarify the molecular origin of the observed nonlinear depression of the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) in the aqueous solutions of thermosensitive random copolymers and find the monomer composition at which LCST shows a minimum. Phase diagrams of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-N,N-diethylacrylamide) copolymer solutions are theoretically derived on the basis of the theory of cooperative hydration by introducing the microscopic structure parameter η which characterizes the distribution of the monomer sequences along the chains. We compared them with the experimental data of LCST of random copolymers with various monomer compositions and also of the diblock copolymers with equimolar monomer composition. The transition temperature shifts to lower than those of homopolymer counterparts when the monomer sequence of the chains has an alternative tendency. On the contrary, for the blocky polymers such as diblock copolymers, the transition temperature remains almost the same as those of the homopolymers. Thus, the nonlinear effect in phase separation appears when the average block length of the copolymers is shorter than the average sequence length of the cooperative hydration. The degree of hydration is calculated as a function of the temperature and polymer concentration for varied distribution of the copolymer compositions. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Polym. Sci., Part B: Polym. Phys. 2013, 51, 1112–1123