Precise Synthesis of a Homogeneous Thermoresponsive Polymer Network Composed of Four-Branched Star Polymers with a Narrow Molecular Weight Distribution

Yuumi Okaya, Yuto Jochi, Takahiro Seki, Kotaro Satoh, Masami Kamigaito, Taiki Hoshino, Tomotaka Nakatani, So Fujinami, Masaki Takata, Yukikazu Takeoka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, the synthesis of a star-shaped polymer with a narrow molecular weight distribution and subsequent formation of a homogeneous polymer network composed of the star-shaped polymer were realized by combining single-electron transfer living radical polymerization, click reaction, and amide bond formation with a condensing agent, which are toolized reactions. First, a 4-armed star polymer consisting of N-isopropylacrylamide was synthesized by living radical polymerization using N,N′-ethylenebis (2,2-dichloroacetamide) as a 4-branched initiator. By this polymerization method, a terminal Cl 4-branched star poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPA) with a narrow molecular weight distribution could be obtained, but it was found that the reaction activity of the polymer terminal was lost in the process of purification and isolation. Therefore, after obtaining the terminal Cl 4-branched star PNIPA by living radical polymerization, an azide reaction was carried out in one pot without purification and isolation of the star-shaped polymer. As a result, the azide group was successfully introduced to all ends of the star-shaped polymer. By introducing a carboxyl group or an amino group into the 4-branched star polymer with azide groups using a click reaction, two types of 4-branched star polymers with different end groups were obtained. Equal amounts of both 4-branched star polymers were mixed at a polymer concentration equal to or higher than the overlapping concentration, and as a result of forming an amide bond with a condensing agent, a polymer gel was obtained. The swelling behaviors of the polymer gel indicate that almost no unreacted carboxyl group or amino group was present in the obtained polymer gel. That is, it was found that both 4-branched star polymers reacted efficiently to form a polymer network. In addition, structural observation of the polymer network by the small-angle X-ray scattering method showed that a polymer gel consisting of a network of uniform size was obtained. As mentioned above, we succeeded in constructing a polymer gel consisting of a homogeneous network structure using a temperature-responsive 4-branched star polymer as the building block. The living radical polymerization method, the click reaction, and the amide formation by condensation reaction used in this study can be applied not only to the NIPA used here but also to various other monomers. If the construction of a precise network structure is realized by many polymers and the relation with the functional expression derived from the structure is clarified, it will be possible to design the network structure in accordance with the usage of the polymer gel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-386
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jan 14


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