Alphagalileo > Item Display

Simple but Effective: Spontaneous Synthesis of Homogenous Polymer Networks

07/09/2018 Nagoya University

Nagoya researchers developed a spontaneous polymer network synthesis that allowed for the preparation of gels containing narrow molecular weight distribution polymers. The gel networks showed swelling properties that were responsive to temperature and solvent concentration. The reported process demonstrates the potential for facile preparation of high quality materials that exhibit the full range of polymer gel properties, including sustained release, stimuli responsiveness, and molecular sieving, amongst others.

Polymer gel materials have been widely applied in medicine,civil engineering,architecture,and space exploration. Their appeal lies in the potential for preparing functional materials with consistent properties,via simple and easily reproducible methods. However,the compromise between method simplicity and optimized material performance means that not all gel materials fulfill their potential. Now a group of researchers at Nagoya University has established a process that combines the ease of a spontaneous process with the high molecular weight control required for producing high-performance materials. Their findings were published inNPG Asia Materials.

The straightforward nature of polymer gel preparation makes them attractive for numerous applications. However,controlling reactions so that all of the polymer molecules grow to the same length and then cross-link in a regular fashion can be challenging. Inconsistencies in the structure can form,and short-chain branching can occur during the assembly of the monomers--both of which lead to low-quality materials.

"We have demonstrated a system that uses differences in reaction kinetics to create highly consistent materials,"corresponding author Yukikazu Takeoka says."Using a single catalyst that allows chain growth to proceed before cross-linking begins,we have been able to create networks comprised of polymers with narrow molecular weight distributions,simply by mixing the required reagents."

Balancing the rapid polymerization of a chosen monomer with a sufficiently slow cross-linking process resulted in a spontaneous reaction to give a regular homogeneous matrix. The stable gel was shown to exhibit responsive properties controlled by both temperature and solvent composition.

"Narrowing the molecular weight distribution of polymers in a gel network leads to a more consistent,higher-performing material,"lead author Yuto Jochi says."It is our hope that we can further refine our reaction conditions to tailor both polymer molecular weight and stoichiometry of cross-linking,to produce completely homogenous networks that can be used in a variety of applications,such as drug delivery,and lenses."

This spontaneous synthetic route to polymer gel matrices that have the necessary homogeneity and quality to be used in applications requiring diverse features such as molecular sieving,high mechanical strength,transparency,stimuli responsiveness,and biocompatibility is a promising step towards the widespread use of polymer gel materials.

"Spontaneous synthesis of a homogeneous thermoresponsive polymer network composed of polymers with a narrow molecular weight distribution," Yuto Jochi, Takahiro Seki, Takamasa Soejima, Kotaro Satoh, Masami Kamigaito & Yukikazu Takeoka, NPG Asia Materials (2018), DOI: 10.1038/s41427-018-0074-x, 30 August 2018.
Attached files
  • Fig. 1: Schematic illustration for spontaneous synthesis of a homogeneous thermoresponsive polymer network composed of narrow molecular weight distribution polymers.
07/09/2018 Nagoya University
Regions: Asia, Japan
Keywords: Science, Chemistry, Physics, Applied science, Engineering


For well over a decade, in my capacity as a researcher, broadcaster, and producer, I have relied heavily on Alphagalileo.
All of my work trips have been planned around stories that I've found on this site.
The under embargo section allows us to plan ahead and the news releases enable us to find key experts.
Going through the tailored daily updates is the best way to start the day. It's such a critical service for me and many of my colleagues.
Koula Bouloukos, Senior manager, Editorial & Production Underknown
We have used AlphaGalileo since its foundation but frankly we need it more than ever now to ensure our research news is heard across Europe, Asia and North America. As one of the UK’s leading research universities we want to continue to work with other outstanding researchers in Europe. AlphaGalileo helps us to continue to bring our research story to them and the rest of the world.
Peter Dunn, Director of Press and Media Relations at the University of Warwick
AlphaGalileo has helped us more than double our reach at SciDev.Net. The service has enabled our journalists around the world to reach the mainstream media with articles about the impact of science on people in low- and middle-income countries, leading to big increases in the number of SciDev.Net articles that have been republished.
Ben Deighton, SciDevNet

We Work Closely With...

  • BBC
  • The Times
  • National Geographic
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • University of Cambridge
Copyright 2021 by DNN Corp Terms Of Use Privacy Statement