Sterically Crowded Copolymers Based on Functionalized Stilbenes

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Virginia Tech


The research in this dissertation is focused on the synthesis and characterization of sterically crowded, precisely charged polyelectrolytes based on substituted stilbene comonomers.

New sterically crowded polyelectrolytes based on functionalized stilbenes with maleic anhydride or functionalized N-phenylmaleimides were prepared via a "protected" precursor polymer strategy. The polyelectrolyte precursors readily dissolved in organic solvents and were characterized by 1H NMR, SEC, TGA, and DSC. The polyelectrolytes were obtained via simple deprotection chemistries. The use of different combinations of the donor-acceptor comonomer pairs and the alternating copolymerization of these comonomers lead to precise control over charge density and placement of charged groups along the polymer backbone. Analogous styrenic copolymers, for direct comparison to the stilbene structures, were also prepared.

Broad peaks in 1H NMR spectra were observed. There were no thermal transitions measured by DSC below the degradation temperature. A strong polyelectrolyte effect, for both stilbene and styrene copolymers, occurred in deionized water and was suppressed by adding NaCl to the polymer solution. These results are not consistent with "rigid" rod polyelectrolytes in which chain collapse in the presence of added salt and chain expansion on dilution should not be observed. In response to these observations persistence length measurements were conducted on the stilbene and styrene copolymers to assess directly the steric crowding effect of added phenyl groups in stilbene copolymers. Both SEC and SAXS measurements were used to obtain persistence lengths. The results from three different approaches, Bohdanecký, graphical and Sharp and Bloomfield Global, were in good agreement. The persistence lengths of stilbene containing copolymers range from 3 to 6 nm and the added phenyl groups increase the rigidity of the polymer chain by about 30-50%. This puts these polymers into a broadly defined "semi-rigid" category of polymers and is consistent with the solution polyelectrolyte effect observed.

In dilute solution characterization of stilbene containing polyanions, a 2-step dissociation behavior was observed for the two adjacent carboxylic acids in maleic acid containing polyanions. Stilbene polyanion solutions showed high Rh values in deionized water as shown by DLS measurements and a decrease of Rh values followed by aggregation upon gradual addition of salt. Bimodal peaks were observed in SEC measurements with the copolymer of 4-methylstilbene and maleic anhydride. DLS measurements indicated interchain aggregation as the origin of the apparent high molecular weight fraction.

The antiviral activity of the polyanion based on sodium 4-styrenesulfonate and N-(4-sodium sulfophenyl)maleimide was found to be ~50 times higher than the microbicide, sodium poly(styrene sulfonate). The early study of antiviral activities of carboxylated stilbene and styrene polyanions also showed promising results. The synthesis of methyl sulfonate ester-functionalized polyanion precursors was attempted because they can be characterized without the complications caused by directly using charged sulfonate groups.



polyelectrolytes, radical copolymerization, alternating copolymers, persistence lengths, stilbene, solution properties