Macroporous cross-linked organic polymer monoliths with well-defined bicontinuous structure have been synthesized from 1,3-glycerol dimethacrylate (GDMA) in a solvent utilizing atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP). With the addition of an adequate polymeric agent, poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO), spinodal decomposition was induced in the course of polymerization of GDMA. A homogeneous gelation by ATRP solidified the temporal biphasic morphology of spinodal decomposition, resulting in well-defined macroporous gels after drying. Macroporous dried gels obtained in this way comprise interconnected skeletons and macropores, which is characteristic for spinodal decomposition. Macropore size and volume were controlled simply by altering the starting composition. The mechanism of spinodal decomposition is deduced that the separation takes place between polymerizing GDMA and PEO, but FTIR and thermal analyses suggested the amount of PEO that is distributed in GDMA-rich phase cannot be neglected. Free radical polymerization, which is generally utilized for synthesis of porous polymeric gels, usually leads to heterogeneous cross-linking forming local microgels and hinders the occurrence of spinodal decomposition in a cross-linking system over extended length scales. On the other hand, living polymerization allowed homogeneous cross-linking; hence, isotropic spinodal decomposition was induced in the copresence of PEO. The facile synthesis method presented here will lead to more precise control of pore properties of cross-linked organic polymer gels.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymers and Plastics
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Materials Chemistry