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  1. Relations between molecular design, chemical functionality, and stimulus-triggered response are important for a variety of applications of polymeric systems. In this paper, reactive amphiphilic block copolymers (BCPs) of poly(2-vinylpyridine)-block-poly(2-vinyl-4,4-dimethylazlactone) (PVP-b-PVDMA) were synthesized and assembled into microgels capable of incorporating functional amines. The composition of the PVP-b-PVDMA BCPs was varied to control the number of reactive sites in the spherical aggregates created by self-assembly of PVP-b-PVDMA BCPs in a 2-propanol/THF (v:v = 19:1) solvent mixture, which is selective for PVP. PVDMA and PVP segments were selectively cross-linked by 1,4-diaminobutane (DAB) or 1,4-diiodobutane (DIB) to fabricate core- and corona-cross-linked azlactone-containing microgels, respectively.more » Non-cross-linked aggregates of PVP-b-PVDMA and DIB-cross-linked microgels dissociate when exposed to THF, which is a good solvent for both blocks. However, the DAB-cross-linked BCP microgels swell in THF, suggesting the formation of a stable, three-dimensional network structure. Finally, because of their ability to be reactively modified in ways that allows their stability or disassembly characteristics to be tailored, these azlactone-containing BCP microgels provide an attractive platform for applications in a wide range of fields, including catalysis, imaging, molecule separation, and guest loading for targeted delivery.« less
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  2. Generating physical or chemical gradients in thin-film scaffolds is an efficient approach for screening and optimizing an interfacial structure or chemical functionality to create tailored surfaces that are useful because of their wetting, antifouling, or barrier properties. In this paper, the relationship between the structure of poly(2-vinyl-4,4-dimethyl azlactone) (PVDMA) brushes created by the preferential assembly of poly(glycidyl methacrylate)-block-PVDMA diblock copolymers and the ability to chemically modify the PVDMA chains in situ to create a gradient in functionality are examined to investigate how the extent of functionalization affects the interfacial and surface properties. The introduction of a chemical gradient by controlledmore » immersion allows reactive modification to generate position-dependent properties that are assessed by ellipsometry, attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, contact angle measurements, and atomic force microscopy imaging. After functionalization of the azlactone rings with n-alkyl amines, ellipsometry confirms an increase in thickness and contact angle measurements support an increase in hydrophobicity along the substrate. These results are used to establish relationships between layer thickness, reaction time, position, and the extent of functionalization and demonstrate that gradual immersion into the functionalizing solution results in a linear change in chemical functionality along the surface. Finally, these findings broadly support efforts to produce tailored surfaces by in situ chemical modification, having application as tailored membranes, protein resistant surfaces, or sensors.« less
  3. Designing thin films or surface scaffolds with an appropriate display of chemical functionality is useful for biomedical applications, sensing platforms, adhesives, and barrier coatings. Relationships between the structural characteristics of model thin films based on reactive poly(2-vinyl-4,4-dimethyl azlactone) (PVDMA) brushes and the amount and distribution of primary amines used to chemically functionalize these layers in situ are quantitatively detailed via neutron reflectometry and compared with results from ellipsometry. After functionalization, the PVDMA brush thickness increases as a result of the primary amines reacting with the azlactone rings. Both techniques show that the extent of functionalization by small-molecule amines depends onmore » the size of the amine, the grafting density of brush chains, and their molecular weight. However, constrained analysis of neutron reflectivity data predicated on that technique’s sensitivity to isotopic substitution and its ability to resolve structure at the nanoscale shows that the extent of functionalization is not accurately represented by the average extent of functionalization determined from ellipsometric thickness: reactive modification is not uniform, even in modestly dense brushes, except when the penetrant is small. In addition, there appears to be a loss of PVDMA chains during functionalization, attributed to chain scission resulting from additional stretching brought about by functionalization. In conclusion, these findings provide unprecedented insight into the alteration of surface properties by reactive modification and broadly support efforts to produce tailored surfaces in which properties such as friction, colloidal stability, adhesion, wettability, and biocompatibility can be modulated in situ by chemical modification.« less

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