Thermoresponsive copolymers that exhibit a lower critical solution temperature (LCST) have been exploited to prepare stimuli-responsive materials for a broad range of applications. It is well understood that the LCST of such copolymers can be controlled by tuning molecular weight or through copolymerization of two known thermoresponsive monomers. However, no general methodology has been established to relate polymer properties to their temperature response in solution. Herein, we sought to develop a predictive relationship between polymer hydrophobicity and cloud point temperature (TCP). A series of statistical copolymers were synthesized based on hydrophilic oligoethylene glycol monomethyl ether methacrylate (OEGMA) and hydrophobic alkyl methacrylate monomers and their hydrophobicity was compared using surface area-normalized partition coefficients (log Poct/SA). However, while some insight was gained by comparing TCP and hydrophobicity values, further statistical analysis on both experimental and literature data showed that the molar percentage of comonomer (i.e., grafting density) was the strongest influencer of TCP, regardless of the comonomer used. The lack of dependence of TCP on comonomer chemistry implies that a broad range of functional, thermoresponsive materials can be prepared based on OEGMA by simply tuning grafting density.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Materials Chemistry