Topological Effects on Properties of Multicomponent Polymer Systems

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Singla, Swati
Beckham, Haskell W.
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Multicomponent polymer systems comprised of two or more chemically different polymer moieties provide an effective way to attain the desired properties from a limited palette of commodity polymers. Variations in macromolecular topologies often result in unique and unusual properties leading to novel applications. This dissertation addresses the effect of topology on properties of two multicomponent polymers systems: blends and polyrotaxanes. Blends of cyclic and linear polymers were compared to their topological counterparts, polyrotaxanes, in which cyclic components are threaded onto the linear polymer chains. The first part of the dissertation focuses on the synthesis and purification of cyclic polymers derived from linear (polyoxyethylene) (POE). Cyclic POEs of different cycle sizes were synthesized and then purified from their linear byproducts by inclusion complexation with alpha-cyclodextrin. Polystyrene was threaded through the resulting cycles by in situ free radical polymerization of styrene monomer in the presence of an excess of POE cycles. A bulky free radical initiator was utilized to endcap the polystyrene molecule at the two ends to prevent dethreading of cyclic moieties. In the second part of the dissertation, phase behavior, morphology and dynamics of cyclic POE and polystyrene blends were compared to linear POE and polystyrene blends. Advanced solid-state NMR techniques and differential scanning calorimetry were employed for this purpose. Cyclic POE was found to be much more miscible with polystyrene when compared to linear POE, resulting in nanometer-sized domains and significantly reduced mobilities of the cyclic POE components in the blends. The unusual behavior of cyclic POE in the blends was attributed to topological as well as end-group effects with the topological effects being predominant. Polyrotaxanes composed of polystyrene and cyclic POE components exhibited cyclic POE domain sizes similar to that of physical blends. Cyclic POE dynamics in polyrotaxanes were considerably hindered, however, due to the threaded architecture. Surface segregation studies of cyclic POE/polystyrene blends and polyrotaxanes did not show segregation of POE to the surface because of the improved miscibility and the topological constraints present in these systems.
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