Effect of Monomer Sequence along Network Chains on Thermoresponsive Properties of Polymer Gels

Gels. 2018 Mar 10;4(1):22. doi: 10.3390/gels4010022.


The effect of monomer sequence along the network chain on the swelling behavior of polymer gels should be clarified for the advanced control of swelling properties of gel materials. To this end, we systematically investigated the swelling properties of poly(acrylamide derivative) gels with the same composition but different monomer sequence by utilizing two gel synthetic methods: copolymerization giving a random network and co-crosslinking giving a blocky network. Both of the copolymerization and the co-crosslinking gels were prepared from the combination of two of the three following monomers: hydrophilic N,N-dimethylacrylamide (DMAAm), hydrophobic N-n-butylacrylamide (NBAAm), and thermoresponsive N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAAm) with various monomer compositions. The swelling measurement of the obtained gels showed totally different behaviors between the copolymerization and the co-crosslinking gels, even with the same monomer composition. The copolymerization gels had the average property from the two monomers, depending on monomer composition, because random monomer distribution changed the affinity of each network chain to water. On the other hand, the co-crosslinking gels behaved as if two components independently contributed to the swelling properties, probably due to the domain structure derived from two kinds of prepolymers.

Keywords: acrylamide derivative; co-crosslinking; copolymerization; gel; monomer sequence; swelling; thermoresponsive property; volume phase transition.