Carbohydrate Mediation of Aqueous Polymerizations: Cyclodextrin Mediation of Aqueous Polymerizations of Methacrylates


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Virginia Tech


Cyclodextrin mediation offers a unique mechanism with the potential for interesting control of reaction parameters. Cyclodextrin mediation of hydrophobic monomers may offer desirable kinetics over conventional free radical polymerizations, and it has been shown in this work that cyclodextrin mediation facilitates polymerization of hydrophobic monomers in aqueous solution and in ethylene glycol. It also may be a facile method for controlling relative reactivity of comonomer mixtures. In addition, complexation of cyclodextrin with guest molecules has been utilized in selective synthesis where the host cyclodextrin has been utilized to sterically hinder the attack of certain reactive sites contained within the host cavity. This aspect of inclusion complexation could also be utilized in free radical polymerizations of monomers with multiple reactive double bonds to preferentially reduce the reactivity of the hindered reactive sites.

This thesis involves the use of methylated(1.8)-beta-cyclodextrin (MeCD) as a mediator for polymerizations in solvents that would not facilitate polymerization of the pure monomer in the absence of cyclodextrin. This study focuses on the carbohydrate mediation of a series of methacrylic monomers. t-Butyl methacrylate, n-butyl methacrylate, cyclohexyl methacrylate, and 2-ethylhexyl methacrylate were complexed with methylated(1.8)-beta-cyclodextrin and subsequently dissolved in either water or ethylene glycol. The complexes were studied by 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopy, thin layer chromatography, CPK modeling, and thermogravimetric analysis, and were found to have molar ratios of cyclodextrin to monomer as high as 1.0 to 0.72. These complexes were then free radically polymerized in either water or ethylene glycol and resulted in high molecular weight polymers that precipitated out of solution, allowing for facile polymer isolation through filtration. Isolated yields were found to be as high as 86 %. The majority of the cyclodextrin remained in solution after polymerization. It was also recovered and found to be recyclable.

Heterogeneous polymerizations were also performed with 2-ethylhexyl methacrylate in which linear dextrin and methylated (1.8)-beta-cyclodextrin were used in emulsifier quantities. It was found that linear dextrin, at concentrations of 3.0 wt% produced a stable latex product with high molecular weight and an isolated yield of >90%. MeCD on the other hand failed to produce a stable emulsion at concentrations between 0.9-3.0 wt%, but remarkably MeCD at 3.0 wt% gave high molecular weight coagulated polymer with a yield of >90%. It is proposed that a heterogeneous mechanism inconsistent with the four major types discussed by Arshady is taking place. Unlike typical suspension or emulsion polymerizations, the cyclodextrin mediated polymerizations are completely homogeneous at the onset, making them more like a dispersion or precipitation polymerization. However, in dispersion and precipitation polymerizations the pure monomer is soluble in the reaction media. In the absence of cyclodextrin, the monomers utilized in this study possessed no appreciable solubility in the reaction media. Therefore, it is proposed that cyclodextrin acts as a phase transfer agent, effectively solublizing the hydrophobic monomer and allowing for the aqueous dispersion or precipitation type polymerization to occur, depending on the relative solubility of the components.

Bulk polymerizations of t-butyl methacrylate, cyclohexyl methacrylate, and 2-ethylhexyl methacrylate and their subsequent use in the preparation of carbohydrate/poly(alkyl methacrylate) blends was also performed in this project. Bulk polymers were utilized as references for physical properties for the polymers produced through polymerization of the MeCD/monomer complexes in either aqueous solution or in ethylene glycol. 1H NMR analysis of the polymers from both the cyclodextrin mediation and bulk polymerizations indicated that the tacticity of the polymers produced in both cases were identical. The bulk polymers were also used in the preparation of carbohydrate/methacrylic blends with potential applications in the areas of selective barriers, biodegradable films. Inclusion of drug molecules or antioxidants into these cyclodextrin containing films also may have potential in drug delivery, or food packaging applications.

In addition, the side chain liquid crystalline monomer, 6-(4-hexyloxy-biphenyl-4-yloxy)hexyl methacrylate was synthesized in high purity via a three-step procedure and confirmed by a combination of mass spectrometry, thin layer chromatography, and 1H and 13C NMR. This hydrophobic liquid crystalline monomer was subsequently complexed with 1.0-3.0 equivalents of methylated(1.8)-beta-cyclodextrin in an attempt to alter the water solubility of the monomer. Complexes of this side-chain liquid crystalline monomer have not been studied previously and it is proposed that complexation with cyclodextrin will lead not only to novel polymerizations routes for this monomer, but also to novel smectic phases for this thermotropic liquid crystalline polymer.



aqueous free radical polymerization, carbohydrate/methacrylic blends, cyclodextrin mediation, inclusion complexation