Polymers2014, 6(11), 2752-2763; doi:10.3390/polym6112752 - published 28 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The miscibility and phase behavior of poly(4-vinylphenol) (PVPh) with poly(vinyl methyl ketone) (PVMK) was investigated by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and scanning electron microscopy(SEM). It was shown that all blends of PVPh/PVMK are totally miscible. A DSC study showed the apparition of a single glass transition (Tg) over their entire composition range. When the amount of PVPh exceeds 50% in blends, the obtained Tgs are found to be significantly higher than those observed for each individual component of the mixture, indicating that these blends are capable of forming interpolymer complexes. FTIR analysis revealed the existence of preferential specific interactions via hydrogen bonding between the hydroxyl and carbonyl groups, which intensified when the amount of PVPh was increased in blends. Furthermore, the quantitative FTIR study carried out for PVPh/PVMK blends was also performed for the vinylphenol (VPh) and vinyl methyl ketone (VMK) functional groups. These results were also established by scanning electron microscopy study (SEM).
Polymers2014, 6(11), 2737-2751; doi:10.3390/polym6112737 - published 24 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Coupling reactions were performed to gauge the effect of the inclusion of a radical trap on the success of coupling reactions of monohalogenated polystyrene (PSX) chains in atom transfer radical coupling (ATRC) type reactions. The effect of both the specific radical trap chosen and the structure of the polymer chain end were evaluated by the extent of dimerization observed in a series of analogous coupling reactions. The commonly used radical trap 2-methyl-2-nitrosopropane (MNP) showed the highest amounts of dimerization for PSX (X = Br, Cl) compared to coupling reactions performed in its absence or with a different radical trap. A dinitroxide coupling agent was also studied with the extent of coupling nearly matching the effectiveness of MNP in RTA (Radical trap-assisted)-ATRC reactions, while N-nitroso and electron rich nitroso coupling agents were the least effective. (2,2,6,6-Tetramethyl-piperin-l-yl)oxyl-capped PS (PS-TEMPO), prepared by NMP, was subjected to a coupling sequence conceptually similar to RTA-ATRC, but dimerization was not observed regardless of the choice of radical trap. Kinetic experiments were performed to observe rate changes on the coupling reaction of PSBr as a result of the inclusion of MNP, with substantial rate enhancements found in the RTA-ATRC coupling sequence compared to traditional ATRC.
Polymers2014, 6(11), 2720-2736; doi:10.3390/polym6112720 - published 24 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Proton exchange membranes (PEMs) are a key component of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell. Sulfonated polyimides (SPIs) were doped by protic ionic liquid (PIL) to prepare composite PEMs with substantially improved conductivity. SPIs were synthesized from diamine, 2,2-bis[4-(4-amino-phenoxy)phenyl]propane (BAPP), sulfonated diamine, 4,4'-diamino diphenyl ether-2,2'-disulfonic acid (ODADS) and aromatic anhydride. BAPP improved the mechanical and thermal properties of SPIs, while ODADS enhanced conductivity. A PIL, 1-vinylimidazolium trifluoromethane-sulfonate ([VIm][OTf]), was utilized. [VIm][OTf] offered better conductivity, which can be attributed to its vinyl chemical structure attached to an imidazolium ring that contributed to ionomer-PIL interactions. We prepared sulfonated polyimide/ionic liquid (SPI/IL) composite PEMs using 50 wt% [VIm][OTf] with a conductivity of 7.17 mS/cm at 100 °C, and in an anhydrous condition, 3,3',4,4'-diphenyl sulfone tetracarboxylic dianhydride (DSDA) was used in the synthesis of SPIs, leading to several hundred-times improvement in conductivity compared to pristine SPIs.
Polymers2014, 6(10), 2684-2719; doi:10.3390/polym6102684 - published 23 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Proteins are heteropolymers that play important roles in virtually every biological reaction. While many proteins have well-defined three-dimensional structures that are inextricably coupled to their function, intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) do not have a well-defined structure, and it is this lack of structure that facilitates their function. As many IDPs are involved in essential cellular processes, various diseases have been linked to their malfunction, thereby making them important drug targets. In this review we discuss methods for studying IDPs and provide examples of how computational methods can improve our understanding of IDPs. We focus on two intensely studied IDPs that have been implicated in very different pathologic pathways. The first, p53, has been linked to over 50% of human cancers, and the second, Amyloid-β (Aβ), forms neurotoxic aggregates in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. We use these representative proteins to illustrate some of the challenges associated with studying IDPs and demonstrate how computational tools can be fruitfully applied to arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of these fascinating heteropolymers.
Polymers2014, 6(10), 2670-2683; doi:10.3390/polym6102670 - published 23 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Thermo-responsive diblock copolymers composed of hydrophilic methoxy poly(ethylene glycol) (MPEG) and hydrophobic biodegradable polyesters were prepared for application as injectable drug delivery systems, because they show a thermo-responsive sol-to-gel transition, especially around body temperature, when dispersed in aqueous solutions. The thermogelling hydrogels formed by hydrophobic aggregation could be varied by changing the components of the hydrophobic polyester part. For the polyester block in the present study, 95 mol% of ε-caprolactone (CL) was used for the main polyester chain and 5 mol% of p-dioxanone (DO) was copolymerized randomly by the MPEG initiator in the presence of HCl as the catalyst. By adding a small portion of DO into the poly ε-caprolactone (PCL) chains, the temperature range of gelation, the intensity of viscosity and the drug release behavior were changed. The MPEG-b-poly(ε-caprolactone-ran-p-dioxanone) (MPEG-b-PCDO) hydrogel showed the enhanced drug release in vitro and in vivo compared to MPEG-b-PCL hydrogel. Therefore, MPEG-polyester hydrogels may serve as minimally invasive and therapeutic, injectable hydrogel systems with adjustable temperature-responsive and biodegradable windows, as well as sustained release of drugs over a certain time period.
Polymers2014, 6(10), 2645-2669; doi:10.3390/polym6102645 - published 22 October 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) and dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) have drawn great interest from both academics and industry, due to the possibility of low-cost conversion of photovoltaic energy at reasonable efficiencies. This review focuses on recent progress in molecular engineering and technological aspects of fused-thiophene-based organic dye molecules for applications in solar cells. Particular attention has been paid to the design principles and stability of these dye molecules, as well as on the effects of various electrolyte systems for DSSCs. Importantly, it has been found that incorporation of a fused-thiophene unit into the sensitizer has several advantages, such as red-shift of the intramolecular charge transfer band, tuning of the frontier molecular energy level, and improvements in both photovoltaic performance and stability. This work also examines the correlation between the physical properties and placement of fused-thiophene in the molecular structure with regard to their performance in OPVs and DSSCs.