Block copolymers composed of hydrophilic poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and hydrophobic biodegradable polyesters have been reported as thermogelling polymers, because they feature temperature-dependent sol-to-gel or gel-to-sol transitions in aqueous solutions. In this study, a series of thermogelling poly(ethylene glycol methyl ether)-block-poly(cyclohexylenedimethylene adipate)-block-poly(ethylene glycol methyl ether) triblock copolymers and PEG-block-poly(cyclohexylenedimethylene adipate) multiblock copolymers was synthesized by reacting hydroxyl-terminated poly(cyclohexylenedimethylene adipate) (PCA) with poly(ethylene glycol methyl ether) and PEG, respectively, using 1,6-diisocyanatohexane as the coupling agent. Two hydroxyl-terminated PCAs, i.e., poly(1,4-cyclohexylenedimethylene adipate) and poly(1,3/1,4- cyclohexylenedimethylene adipate), were synthesized by the condensation reaction of adipic acid (AA) with 1,4-cyclohexanedimethanol (CHDM) and 1,3/1,4-CHDM, respectively, and used as the hydrophobic polyester blocks of these thermogelling copolymers to compare the effect of crystallinity on the sol-to-gel transition behavior. The polymers were characterized using proton nuclear magnetic resonance, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, gel permeation chromatography, differential scanning calorimetry, solubility testing, and rheological analysis. Experimental results revealed that the structure of the PCA block (crystalline vs. amorphous), the molecular weights of the hydrophobic PCA and hydrophilic PEG blocks, and the type of thermogelling polymer (triblock vs. multiblock) influenced the solubility, polymer micelle packing characteristics, maximum storage modulus, and sol-to-gel temperature of the polymers. Among all the samples at 40 wt.% aqueous solutions, triblock copolymer TB3 showed sol-to-gel temperature at 22°C, and had the highest maximum storage modulus about 170 Pa.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Polymers and Plastics
- Organic Chemistry