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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences

First Advisor

Qinglang Zhao

First Committee Member

Craig Vierra

Second Committee Member

Liang Xue


Poly-N-isopropylacrylamide (PNIPAM) gels grafted to redox-active metal monomers undergo sudden expansion-contraction activity in response to change in environmental conditions, such as temperature, pH, ion concentration, and oxidation states of the metal. The relevance of these conditions to biological systems has garnered attention for PNIPAM-based polymer as potential biomedical materials. Candidate transition metal monomers containing ruthenium and nickel cores were designed and synthesized for copolymerization with NIPAM and cross-linker methylene-bis-acrylamide in order to attain metallopolymer microspheres with a high percentage of metal incorporation. Synthesis of 4-vinyl-4'-methyl-2,2'-bipyridine (vmbpy) was optimized from literature procedures for usage in the metal-containing monomers. Metal-containing monomers were then synthesized, purified, and characterized using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), proton nuclear magnetic resonance ( 1 H-NMR), X-ray diffraction, Ultraviolet-Visible light (UV-Vis) spectroscopy, and spectrofluorometry. While the Ru complex was pure and exhibited interesting photochemical properties, lability of the ligands on the Ni monomers resulted in complication of their synthesis. Polymer microspheres of poly(NIPAM-co-vmbpy), the cross-linked copolymer constructed from NIPAM and vmbpy monomers, were synthesized from modified emulsion polymerization procedures. Experimental setup parameters and conditions—such as the methods of injection of initiator and stirring, the time duration for incubating the emulsion, and the initiation temperature—were varied to assess their influences on the material properties of the final product. The polymers were tested for size and morphological uniformity by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). While varying the method of initiator injection had no measurable effect on the product, strong mechanical stirring and incubation of the polymer emulsion for 15-25 minutes at 71 °C procured similar polymer products. Consistent properties ensured the polymers' suitability for further material development. Preliminary morphological and spectroscopic characterization was conducted of metallopolymers made from Ru and Ni grafted to PNIPAM. Metallopolymers containing polypyridyl Ru cores exhibited desirable spectroscopic properties and spherical morphology.





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