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- New Double-Responsive Micelles of Block Copolymers Based on N,N-Diethylacrylamide: Synthesis, Kinetics, Micellization, and Application as Emulsion Stabilizers (2005)
- Thermo- and pH-responsive block copolymers based on (meth)acrylic acid and N,N-diethylacrylamide were synthesized and their aqueous solution behavior was studied. Such bishydrophilic block copolymers represent an interesting class of stimuli-responsive water-soluble materials whose macroscopic properties can be triggered at the molecular level by tuning the temperature, the pH and the ionic strength of the solution. A new method was introduced for the synthesis of well-defined poly(N,N-diethylacrylamide) (PDEAAm) via living anionic polymerization using ethyl alpha-lithioisobutyrate (EiBLi) in the presence of triethylaluminium (Et3Al) as Lewis acid in tetrahydrofuran (THF) at -78 °C. Kinetic investigations were performed using in-situ Fourier-transform Near-Infrared (FT-NIR) fiber-optic spectroscopy. This is the first mechanistic study of the anionic polymerization of a dialkylacrylamide. The polymerization follows first order kinetics with respect to the effective concentration of active chains, [P*]0, but shows complex kinetics with respect to the actual monomer and initial aluminum concentrations. Upon addition of Et3Al, the polymerization rate constant, kp decreases, which is explained by the formation of an amidoenolate chain end/Et3Al complex of lower reactivity. It involves two equilibria: between noncoordinated and Et3Al-coordinated chain ends (deactivation of chain ends) as well as between free and Et3Al-activated monomer (activated monomer mechanism). These two effects are in a delicate balance that depends on the ratio of the concentrations of Et3Al, monomer, and chain ends. Thus, the polymerization rate of this system is governed simultaneously by the complex interplay between the activation of monomer (dependent on monomer and Et3Al concentrations) and the deactivation of chain ends (dependent on the ratio of concentrations of Et3Al to initiator). Polymers with narrow molecular weight distribution are obtained, indicating that the rate of interconversion between the different chain end species is greater than the polymerization rate. In contrast, such well-defined polymers are not found in the absence of Et3Al. PDEAAm polymers, synthesized using organolithium initiator in the presence of Et3Al, are rich in heterotactic (mr) triads and exhibit Lower Critical Solution Temperatures (LCST) in water with a cloud point at Tc = ca. 31 °C. By extending this synthetic concept and using poly(tert-butyl acrylate)-Li, and poly(tert-butyl methacrylate)-Li as macroinitiators, well-defined poly(tert-butyl acrylate)-block-PDEAAm, and poly(tert-butyl methacrylate)-block-PDEAAm block copolymers were obtained. Although the blocking efficiencies remained below 70 % a separation of block and homopolymers was easily possible. The narrowly distributed (AA)45-b-(DEAAm)360 block copolymer obtained after hydrolysis of the protecting tert-butyl groups exhibits interesting ‘schizophrenic’ micellization behavior in response to temperature, to pH, and to ionic strength of the aqueous media. Due to its asymmetric composition, two opposite micellar structures are expected. Indeed, the existence of different micellar aggregates, i.e., ‘crew-cut’ micelles with a PDEAAm core and inverse star-like micelles with PAA core, was proven by several analytical techniques, like Small-Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS), Dynamic and Static Light Scattering (DLS, SLS) and Cryo Transmission Electron Microscopy (cryo-TEM). Furthermore, all the transitions were found to be reversible. Finally, the synthesized bishydrophilic block copolymers were used for batch emulsion polymerizations of styrene, methyl methacrylate and n-butyl acrylate. In all cases, latexes with remarkable long-term stabilities were obtained, which is a very interesting feature from the colloidal point of view. The stabilization efficiency was found to be essentially adjustable by the pH due to the loss of the PDEAAm segment inside the latex particle. A detailed analysis of the particle size and particle size distribution was carried out using a variety of methods, including DLS, TEM and Asymmetric Flow Field-Flow Fractionation (AF-FFF).