Special Issue "Polymers for Aqueous Media"

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 February 2016).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. André Laschewsky
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1 Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP, Geiselbergstr.69, 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany
2 Department of Chemistry, Universität Potsdam, Karl-Liebknechtstr.24–25, 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany
Interests: design, synthesis and investigation of new functional monomers and polymers; polymers in aqueous media; self-organization of polymers and functionalization of the assemblies formed; biomimicking by polymer and surfactant systems; correlation of molecular architecture, supramolecular structure and macroscopic properties of polymers

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Polymers is dedicated to the synthesis and functionalization of polymers for aqueous media. Such polymers, i.e., polymers produced or applied in water and related environments, play key roles in addressing current problems within science and technology. Water is the solvent chosen by nature; it is non-toxic, non-inflammable, and ubiquitous. A priori, polymers for aqueous media thus offer a unique combination of ecological friendliness, biocompatibility, and sustainability, as well as an unmatched potential for self-assembly and the implementation of “smart” behavior. Yet, from the chemist's view, water is an aggressive compound that reacts readily with many organic and inorganic substances. Also, the molecular structure of most aqueous polymers is marked by highly polar or even ionic groups, which add to the chemical and physical difficulties. All these aspects render the chemistry and the physics of polymers for aqueous media rather complicated. On the one hand, special analytical methods and tools are required. On the other hand, the synthesis of such polymers, in particular in aqueous and related solvents, continues to be challenging and asks for specialized solutions. Consequently, this Special Issue aims to reflect the current efforts and progress made in the field.

Prof. Dr. André Laschewsky
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • polymer synthesis
  • polyelectrolytes
  • polyampholytes
  • green polymers
  • polymer colloids
  • hydrogels
  • self-assembly
  • bio-inspired materials

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Preparation and Characterization of Water-Soluble Xylan Ethers
Polymers 2017, 9(4), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym9040129 - 31 Mar 2017
Cited by 6
Abstract
Xylan is a predominant hemicellulose component that is found in plants and in some algae. This polysaccharide is made from units of xylose (a pentose sugar). One promising source of xylan is oat spelt. This feedstock was used for the synthesis of two [...] Read more.
Xylan is a predominant hemicellulose component that is found in plants and in some algae. This polysaccharide is made from units of xylose (a pentose sugar). One promising source of xylan is oat spelt. This feedstock was used for the synthesis of two xylan ethers. To achieve water soluble products, we prepared dihydroxypropyl xylan as a non-ionic ether on the one hand, and carboxymethyl xylan as an ionic derivative on the other hand. Different preparation methods like heterogeneous, pseudo-homogeneous, and homogeneous syntheses were compared. In the case of dihydroxypropyl xylan, the synthesis method did not significantly affect the degree of substitution (DS). In contrast, in the case of carboxymethyl xylan, clear differences of the DS values were found in dependence on the synthesis method. Xylan ethers with DS values of >1 could be obtained, which mostly show good water solubility. The synthesized ionic, as well as non-ionic, xylan ethers were soluble in water, even though the aqueous solutions showed slight turbidity. Nevertheless, stable, transparent, and stainable films could be prepared from aqueous solutions from carboxymethyl xylans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers for Aqueous Media)
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Open AccessCommunication
Rapid Mercury(II) Removal by Electrospun Sulfur Copolymers
Polymers 2016, 8(7), 266; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8070266 - 20 Jul 2016
Cited by 37
Abstract
Electrospinning was performed with a blend of commercially available poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) and a sulfur-rich copolymer based on poly(sulfur-statistical-diisopropenylbenzene), which was synthesized via inverse vulcanization. The polysulfide backbone of sulfur-containing polymers is known to bind mercury from aqueous solutions and can [...] Read more.
Electrospinning was performed with a blend of commercially available poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) and a sulfur-rich copolymer based on poly(sulfur-statistical-diisopropenylbenzene), which was synthesized via inverse vulcanization. The polysulfide backbone of sulfur-containing polymers is known to bind mercury from aqueous solutions and can be utilized for recycling water. Increasing the surface area by electrospinning can maximize the effect of binding mercury regarding the rate and maximum uptake. These fibers showed a mercury decrease of more than 98% after a few seconds and a maximum uptake of 440 mg of mercury per gram of electrospun fibers. These polymeric fibers represent a new class of efficient water filtering systems that show one of the highest and fastest mercury uptakes for electrospun fibers reported. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers for Aqueous Media)
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Open AccessArticle
pH- and Metal Ion- Sensitive Hydrogels based on N-[2-(dimethylaminoethyl)acrylamide]
Polymers 2016, 8(6), 233; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8060233 - 15 Jun 2016
Cited by 10
Abstract
Smart hydrogels are promising materials for actuators and sensors, as they can respond to small changes in their environment with a large property change. Hydrogels can respond to a variety of stimuli, for example temperature, pH, metal ions, etc. In this article, [...] Read more.
Smart hydrogels are promising materials for actuators and sensors, as they can respond to small changes in their environment with a large property change. Hydrogels can respond to a variety of stimuli, for example temperature, pH, metal ions, etc. In this article, the synthesis and characterization of polyampholyte hydrogels based on open chain ligands showing pH and metal ion sensitivity are described. Copolymer and terpolymer gels using different mixtures of monomers i.e., N-[2-(dimethylaminoethyl)acrylamide] (DMAEAAm), N,N-dimethylacrylamide (DMAAm), acrylic acid (AA) and 2-acrylamido-2-methyl-1-propanesulphonic acid (AMPS), have been synthesized. The effect of copolymer composition, i.e., the ratio and amount of ionic monomers and the degree of crosslinking on the swelling characteristics, was evaluated as a function of pH. On this basis, metal ion sensitivity measurements were performed at selected pH values. The metal ion sensitivity was measured by varying the concentration of Cu2+, Zn2+ and Ag+ ions under acidic pH conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers for Aqueous Media)
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Open AccessArticle
Polyester-Based, Biodegradable Core-Multishell Nanocarriers for the Transport of Hydrophobic Drugs
Polymers 2016, 8(5), 192; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8050192 - 14 May 2016
Cited by 5
Abstract
A water-soluble, core-multishell (CMS) nanocarrier based on a new hyperbranched polyester core building block was synthesized and characterized towards drug transport and degradation of the nanocarrier. The hydrophobic drug dexamethasone was encapsulated and the enzyme-mediated biodegradability was investigated by NMR spectroscopy. The new [...] Read more.
A water-soluble, core-multishell (CMS) nanocarrier based on a new hyperbranched polyester core building block was synthesized and characterized towards drug transport and degradation of the nanocarrier. The hydrophobic drug dexamethasone was encapsulated and the enzyme-mediated biodegradability was investigated by NMR spectroscopy. The new CMS nanocarrier can transport one molecule of dexamethasone and degrades within five days at a skin temperature of 32 °C to biocompatible fragments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers for Aqueous Media)
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Open AccessArticle
Amyloid Beta Aggregation in the Presence of Temperature-Sensitive Polymers
Polymers 2016, 8(5), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8050178 - 02 May 2016
Cited by 5
Abstract
The formation of amyloid fibrils is considered to be one of the main causes for many neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease. Current knowledge suggests that amyloid-aggregation represents a nucleation-dependent aggregation process in vitro, where a sigmoidal growth phase [...] Read more.
The formation of amyloid fibrils is considered to be one of the main causes for many neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease. Current knowledge suggests that amyloid-aggregation represents a nucleation-dependent aggregation process in vitro, where a sigmoidal growth phase follows an induction period. Here, we studied the fibrillation of amyloid β 1-40 (Aβ40) in the presence of thermoresponsive polymers, expected to alter the Aβ40 fibrillation kinetics due to their lower critical solution behavior. To probe the influence of molecular weight and the end groups of the polymer on its lower critical solution temperature (LCST), also considering its concentration dependence in the presence of buffer-salts needed for the aggregation studies of the amyloids, poly(oxazolines) (POx) with LCSTs ranging from 14.2–49.8 °C and poly(methoxy di(ethylene glycol)acrylates) with LCSTs ranging from 34.4–52.7 °C were synthesized. The two different polymers allowed the comparison of the influence of different molecular structures onto the fibrillation process. Mixtures of Aβ40 with these polymers in varying concentrations were studied via time-dependent measurements of the thioflavin T (ThT) fluorescence. The studies revealed that amyloid fibrillation was accelerated in, accompanied by an extension of the lag phase of Aβ40 fibrillation from 18.3 h in the absence to 19.3 h in the presence of the poly(methoxy di(ethylene glycol)acrylate) (3600 g/mol). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers for Aqueous Media)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Uptake of pH-Sensitive Gold Nanoparticles in Strong Polyelectrolyte Brushes
Polymers 2016, 8(4), 134; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8040134 - 08 Apr 2016
Cited by 11
Abstract
The impact of electrostatic attraction on the uptake of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) into positively charged strong poly-[2-(Methacryloyloxy) ethyl] trimethylammonium chloride (PMETAC) polyelectrolyte brushes was investigated. In this work, PMETAC brushes were synthesized via surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (Si-ATRP). PMETAC/AuNP composite materials were [...] Read more.
The impact of electrostatic attraction on the uptake of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) into positively charged strong poly-[2-(Methacryloyloxy) ethyl] trimethylammonium chloride (PMETAC) polyelectrolyte brushes was investigated. In this work, PMETAC brushes were synthesized via surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (Si-ATRP). PMETAC/AuNP composite materials were prepared by incubation of the polymer brush coated samples into 3-mercaptopropionic acid-capped AuNP (5 nm in diameter) suspension. The electrostatic interactions were tuned by changing the surface charge of the AuNPs through variations in pH value, while the charge of the PMETAC brush was not affected. Atomic-force microscopy (AFM), ellipsometry, UV/Vis spectroscopy, gravimetric analysis and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) were employed to study the loading and penetration into the polymer brush. The results show that the number density of attached AuNPs depends on the pH value and increases with increasing pH value. There is also strong evidence that the particle assembly is dependent on the pH value of the AuNP suspension. Incubation of PMETAC brushes in AuNP suspension at pH 4 led to the formation of a surface layer on top of the brush (2D assembly) due to sterical hindrance of the clustered AuNPs, while incubation in AuNP suspension at pH 8 led to deeper particle penetration into the brush (3D assembly). The straightforward control of particle uptake and assembly by tuning the charge density of the nanoparticle surface is a valuable tool for the development of materials for colorimetric sensor applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers for Aqueous Media)
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Open AccessArticle
Influence of the Near Molecular Vicinity on the Temperature Regulated Fluorescence Response of Poly(N-vinylcaprolactam)
Polymers 2016, 8(4), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8040109 - 25 Mar 2016
Cited by 4
Abstract
A series of new fluorescent dye bearing monomers, including glycomonomers, based on maleamide and maleic esteramide was synthesized. The dye monomers were incorporated by radical copolymerization into thermo-responsive poly(N‑vinyl-caprolactam) that displays a lower critical solution temperature (LCST) in aqueous solution. The [...] Read more.
A series of new fluorescent dye bearing monomers, including glycomonomers, based on maleamide and maleic esteramide was synthesized. The dye monomers were incorporated by radical copolymerization into thermo-responsive poly(N‑vinyl-caprolactam) that displays a lower critical solution temperature (LCST) in aqueous solution. The effects of the local molecular environment on the polymers’ luminescence, in particular on the fluorescence intensity and the extent of solvatochromism, were investigated below as well as above the phase transition. By attaching substituents of varying size and polarity in the close vicinity of the fluorophore, and by varying the spacer groups connecting the dyes to the polymer backbone, we explored the underlying structure–property relationships, in order to establish rules for successful sensor designs, e.g., for molecular thermometers. Most importantly, spacer groups of sufficient length separating the fluorophore from the polymer backbone proved to be crucial for obtaining pronounced temperature regulated fluorescence responses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers for Aqueous Media)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Water-Dispersible Silica-Polyelectrolyte Nanocomposites Prepared via Acid-Triggered Polycondensation of Silicic Acid and Directed by Polycations
Polymers 2016, 8(3), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8030096 - 22 Mar 2016
Cited by 2
Abstract
The present work describes the acid-triggered condensation of silicic acid, Si(OH)4, as directed by selected polycations in aqueous solution in the pH range of 6.5–8.0 at room temperature, without the use of additional solvents or surfactants. This process results in the [...] Read more.
The present work describes the acid-triggered condensation of silicic acid, Si(OH)4, as directed by selected polycations in aqueous solution in the pH range of 6.5–8.0 at room temperature, without the use of additional solvents or surfactants. This process results in the formation of silica-polyelectrolyte (S-PE) nanocomposites in the form of precipitate or water-dispersible particles. The mean hydrodynamic diameter (dh) of size distributions of the prepared water-dispersible S-PE composites is presented as a function of the solution pH at which the composite formation was achieved. Poly(2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) (PDMAEMA) and block copolymers of DMAEMA and oligo(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate (OEGMA) were used as weak polyelectrolytes in S-PE composite formation. The activity of the strong polyelectrolytes poly(methacryloxyethyl trimethylammonium iodide) (PMOTAI) and PMOTAI-b-POEGMA in S-PE formation is also examined. The effect of polyelectrolyte strength and the OEGMA block on the formation of the S-PE composites is assessed with respect to the S-PE composites prepared using the PDMAEMA homopolymer. In the presence of the PDMAEMA60 homopolymer (Mw = 9400 g/mol), the size of the dispersible S-PE composites increases with solution pH in the range pH 6.6–8.1, from dh = 30 nm to dh = 800 nm. S-PDMAEMA60 prepared at pH 7.8 contained 66% silica by mass (TGA). The increase in dispersible S-PE particle size is diminished when directed by PDMAEMA300 (Mw = 47,000 g/mol), reaching a maximum of dh = 75 nm. S-PE composites formed using PDMAEMA-b-POEGMA remain in the range dh = 20–30 nm across this same pH regime. Precipitated S-PE composites were obtained as spheres of up to 200 nm in diameter (SEM) and up to 65% mass content of silica (TGA). The conditions of pH for the preparation of dispersible and precipitate S-PE nanocomposites, as directed by the five selected polyelectrolytes PDMAEMA60, PDMAEMA300, PMOTAI60, PDMAEMA60-b-POEGMA38 and PMOTAI60-b-POEGMA38 is summarized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers for Aqueous Media)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Enzymatic Synthesis and Characterization of Hydrophilic Sugar Based Polyesters and Their Modification with Stearic Acid
Polymers 2016, 8(3), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8030080 - 16 Mar 2016
Cited by 9
Abstract
Biodegradable and hydrophilic functional polyesters were synthesized enzymatically using xylitol or d-sorbitol together with divinyl adipate and lipase B from Candida antartica (CAL-B). The resulting polyesters had pendant OH-groups from their sugar units which were esterified to different degrees with stearic acid [...] Read more.
Biodegradable and hydrophilic functional polyesters were synthesized enzymatically using xylitol or d-sorbitol together with divinyl adipate and lipase B from Candida antartica (CAL-B). The resulting polyesters had pendant OH-groups from their sugar units which were esterified to different degrees with stearic acid chloride. The structure and the degrees of polymerization of the resulting graft copolymers based on poly(xylitol adipate) and poly(d-sorbitol adipate) were characterized by 1H NMR spectroscopy and SEC. DSC, WAXS and SAXS measurements indicated that a phase separation between polymer backbone and stearoyl side chains occurred in the graft copolymers, and, additionally, the side chains were able to crystallize which resulted in the formation of a lamellar morphology. Additionally, nanoparticles of the graft copolymers in an aqueous environment were studied by DLS and negative stain TEM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers for Aqueous Media)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Hybrid Polymer-Network Hydrogels with Tunable Mechanical Response
Polymers 2016, 8(3), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym8030082 - 15 Mar 2016
Cited by 11
Abstract
Hybrid polymer-network gels built by both physical and covalent polymer crosslinking combine the advantages of both these crosslinking types: they exhibit high mechanical strength along with excellent fracture toughness and extensibility. If these materials are extensively deformed, their physical crosslinks can break such [...] Read more.
Hybrid polymer-network gels built by both physical and covalent polymer crosslinking combine the advantages of both these crosslinking types: they exhibit high mechanical strength along with excellent fracture toughness and extensibility. If these materials are extensively deformed, their physical crosslinks can break such that strain energy is dissipated and irreversible fracturing is restricted to high strain only. This mechanism of energy dissipation is determined by the kinetics and thermodynamics of the physical crosslinking contribution. In this paper, we present a poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) based material toolkit to control these contributions in a rational and custom fashion. We form well-defined covalent polymer-network gels with regularly distributed additional supramolecular mechanical fuse links, whose strength of connectivity can be tuned without affecting the primary polymer-network composition. This is possible because the supramolecular fuse links are based on terpyridine–metal complexation, such that the mere choice of the fuse-linking metal ion adjusts their kinetics and thermodynamics of complexation–decomplexation, which directly affects the mechanical properties of the hybrid gels. We use oscillatory shear rheology to demonstrate this rational control and enhancement of the mechanical properties of the hybrid gels. In addition, static light scattering reveals their highly regular and well-defined polymer-network structures. As a result of both, the present approach provides an easy and reliable concept for preparing hybrid polymer-network gels with rationally designed properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymers for Aqueous Media)
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