Core Cross-Linked Multiarm Star Polymers with Aggregation-Induced Emission and Temperature Responsive Fluorescence Characteristics

Zhen Zhang, Panagiotis Bilalis, Hefeng Zhang, Yves Gnanou, Nikos Hadjichristidis

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32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aggregation-induced emission (AIE) active core cross-linked multiarm star polymers, carrying polystyrene (PS), polyethylene (PE), or polyethylene-b-polycaprolactone (PE-b-PCL) arms, have been synthesized through an “arm-first” strategy, by atom transfer radical copolymerization (ATRP) of a double styrene-functionalized tetraphenylethene (TPE-2St) used as a cross-linker with linear arm precursors possessing terminal ATRP initiating moieties. Polyethylene macroinitiator (PE–Br) was prepared via the polyhomologation of dimethylsulfoxonium methylide with triethylborane followed by oxidation/hydrolysis and esterification of the produced PE–OH with 2-bromoisobutyryl bromide; polyethylene-block-poly(ε-caprolactone) diblock macroinitiator was derived by combining polyhomologation with ring-opening polymerization (ROP). All synthesized star polymers showed AIE-behavior either in solution or in bulk. At high concentration in good solvents (e.g., THF, or toluene) they exhibited low photoluminescence (PL) intensity due to the inner filter effect. In sharp contrast to the small molecule TPE-2St, the star polymers were highly emissive in dilute THF solutions. This can be attributed to the cross-linked structure of poly(TPE-2St) core which restricts the intramolecular rotation and thus induces emission. In addition, the PL intensity of PE star polymers in THF(solvent)/n-hexane(nonsolvent) mixtures, due to their nearly spherical shape, increased when the temperature decreased from 55 to 5 °C with a linear response in the range 40–5 °C.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4217-4226
Number of pages10
JournalMacromolecules
Volume50
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - May 19 2017

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