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ABSTRACT: The effects of hydrophobicity of monomers on the structures and properties of 1,3:2,4-dibenzylidene-D-sorbitol (DBS) organogels and nanostructured polymers prepared by templating the self-assembled organogels were investigated in this study. Hydrophobic styrene (St), hydrophilic methyl (methacrylate) (MMA), and their mixtures were chosen as the monomers. Though the gelation time varied, the average diameters (around 10 nm) of DBS nanofibrils found in the resulting organogels did not change significantly, for monomers of different hydrophobicity, as observed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Nonetheless, new structures, DBS microaggregates, appeared when the MMA content in the monomers was high enough. These irregular, micrometer-sized DBS structures (microaggregates) may have formed because the aggregated DBS molecules were influenced by the MMA monomers, due to the hydrogen bonding between DBS and MMA. This was confirmed by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and could also explain the differences in the gelation time of the DBS organogels: gels form more slowly in MMA than in St because of the competing interaction, hydrogen bonding, between DBS and MMA. Subsequently, we thermally initiated the free-radical polymerization of these St/MMA co-monomers. PS/PMMA copolymers were obtained, and no macroscopic phase separation occurred after the polymerization. Finally, the porous structures of the polymers produced by the solvent extraction of the DBS templates were observed, using TEM.
Langmuir 09/2011; 27(20):12630-5. · 4.38 Impact Factor