Characterization of oligo(acrylic acid)s and their block co-oligomers
Sutton, AT and Arrua, RD and Gaborieau, M and Castignolles, P and Hilder, EF, Characterization of oligo(acrylic acid)s and their block co-oligomers, Analytica Chimica Acta: International Journal Devoted to All Branches of Analytical Chemistry, 1032 pp. 163-177. ISSN 0003-2670 (2018) [Refereed Article]
Oligo(acrylic acid), oligoAA are important species currently used industrially in the stabilization of paints and also for the production of self-assembled polymer structures which have been shown to have useful applications in analytical separation methods and potentially in drug delivery systems. To properly tailor the synthesis of oligoAA, and its block co-oligomers synthesized by Reversible-Addition Fragmentation chain Transfer (RAFT) polymerization to applications, detailed knowledge about the chemical structure is needed. Commonly used techniques such as Size Exclusion Chromatography (SEC) and Electrospray Ionization-Mass Spectrometry (ESI-MS) suffer from poor resolution and non-quantitative distributions, respectively. In this work free solution Capillary Electrophoresis (CE) has been thoroughly investigated as an alternative, allowing for the separation of oligoAA by molar mass and the RAFT agent end group. The method was then extended to block co-oligomers of acrylic acid and styrene. Peak capacities up to 426 were observed for these 1D CE separations, 10 times greater than what has been achieved for Liquid Chromatography (LC) of oligostyrenes. To provide a comprehensive insight into the chemical structure of these materials 1H and 13C Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was used to provide an accurate average chain length and reveal the presence of branching. The chain length at which branching is detected was investigated with the results showing a degree of branching of 1% of the monomer units in oligoAA with an average chain length of 9 monomer units, which was the shortest chain length at which branching could be detected. This branching is suspected to be a result of both intermolecular and intramolecular transfer reactions. The combination of free solution CE and NMR spectroscopy is shown to provide a near complete elucidation of the chemical structure of oligoAA including the average chain length and branching as well as the chain length and RAFT agent end group distribution. Furthermore, the purity in terms of the dead chains and unreacted RAFT agent was quantified. The use of free solution CE and 1H NMR spectroscopy demonstrated in this work can be routinely applied to oligoelectrolytes and their block co-oligomers to provide an accurate characterization which allows for better design of the materials produced from these oligomers.
Oligomer, poly(acrylic acid), capillary electrophoresis, quantitative NMR spectroscopy, end group, degree of branching