Open Access
Tian, Zhicheng
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 09, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Harry R Allcock, Dissertation Advisor
  • Mike Hickner, Committee Member
  • John V Badding, Committee Member
  • Benjamin James Lear, Committee Member
  • Polymer Chemistry
  • Organic Synthesis
  • Polyphosphazenes
  • Structure Property Correlations
  • Biomaterials
  • Elastomers
The work described in this thesis is divided into three major parts, and all of which involve the exploration of the chemistry of polyphosphazenes. The first part (chapters 2 and 3) of my research is synthesis and study polyphoshazenes for biomedical applications, including polymer drug conjugates and injectable hydrogels for drug or biomolecule delivery. The second part (chapters 4 and 5) focuses on the synthesis of several organic/inorganic hybrid polymeric structures, such as diblock, star, brush and palm tree copolymers using living cationic polymerization and atom transfer radical polymerization techniques. The last part (chapters 6 and 7) is about exploratory synthesis of new polymeric structures with fluorinated side groups or cycloaliphatic side groups, and the study of new structure property relationships. Chapter 1 is an outline of the fundamental concepts for polymeric materials, as such the history, important definitions, and some introductory material for to polymer chemistry and physics. The chemistry and applications of phopshazenes is also briefly described. Chapter 2 is a description of the design, synthesis, and characterization of development of a new class of polymer drug conjugate materials based on biodegradable polyphosphazenes and antibiotics. Poly(dichlorophosphazene), synthesized by a thermal ring opening polymerization, was reacted with up to 25 mol% of ciprofloxacin or norfloxacin and three different amino acid esters (glycine, alanine, or phenylalanine) as cosubstituents via macromolecular substitutions. Nano/microfibers of several selected polymers were prepared by an electrospinning technique. The hydrolysis rate and the antibiotic release profile can be well tuned by either the polymer compositions, or the surface area monitored by a six week in vitro hydrolysis experiment. All the polymers gave a near-neutral hydrolysis environment with the pH ranging from 5.9–6.8. In an in vitro antibacterial test against E.coli, the antibacterial activity of the hydrolysis media was maintained as long as the polymer hydrolysis continued. Chapter 3 is concerned with the development of a class of injectable and biodegradable hydrogels based on water-soluble poly(organophosphazenes) containing oligo(ethylene glycol) methyl ethers and glycine ethyl esters. The hydrogels can be obtained by mixing α-cyclodextrin aqueous solution and poly(organophosphazenes) aqueous solution in various gelation rates depending on the polymer structures and the concentrations. The rheological measurements of the supramolecular hydrogels indicate a fast gelation process and flowable character under a large stain. The hydrogel system also exhibits structure-related reversible gel-sol transition properties at a certain temperature. The formation of a channel-type inclusion complex induced gelation mechanism was studied by DSC, TGA, 13C CP/MAS NMR and X-ray diffraction techniques. In vitro bovine serum albumin release of the hydrogel system was explored and the biodegradability of poly(organophosphazenes) was studied. Chapter 4 outlines the preparation of a number of amphiphilic diblock copolymers based on poly[bis(trifluoroethoxy)phosphazene] (TFE) as the hydrophobic block and poly(dimethylaminoethylmethacrylate) (PDMAEMA) as the hydrophilic block. The TFE block was synthesized first by the controlled living cationic polymerization of a phosphoranimine, followed by replacement of all the chlorine atoms using sodium trifluoroethoxide. To allow for the growth of the PDMAEMA block, 3-azidopropyl-2-bromo-2-methylpropanoate, an atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) initiator, was grafted onto the endcap of the TFE block via the ‘click’ reaction followed by the ATRP of 2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate (DMAEMA). Once synthesized, micelles were formed by a standard method and their characteristics were examined using fluorescence techniques, dynamic light scattering, and transmission electron microscopy. The critical micelle concentrations of the diblock copolymers as determined by fluorescence techniques using pyrene as a hydrophobic probe were between 3.47 and 9.55mg/L, with the partition equilibrium constant of pyrene in these micelles ranging from 0.12×105-1.52×105. The diameters measured by dynamic light scattering were 100-142nm at 25oC with a narrow distribution, which were also confirmed by transmission electron microscopy. Chapter 5 is a report on the design and assembly of polyphosphazene materials based on the non-covalent “host–guest” interactions either at the terminus of the polymeric main-chains or the pendant side-chains. The supramolecular interaction at the main chain terminus was used to produce amphiphilic palm-tree like pseudo-block copolymers via host-guest interactions between an adamantane end-functionalized polyphosphazene and a 4-armed β-cyclodextrin (β-CD) initiated poly[poly(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacylate] branched-star type polymer. The formation of micelles of the obtained amphiphiles was analyzed by fluorescence technique, dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy. The supramolecular interactions involving polymer side-chains were achieved between polyphosphazenes with β-CD pendant units and other polyphosphazene molecules with adamantyl moieties on the side-chains. These interactions worked as physical crosslinks which were responsible for the formation of a supramolecular hydrogel. The results of this work demonstrated the synthetic possibilities for these novel polymeric structures. These materials show potential for applications as smart drug delivery micro-vehicles, responsive hydrogels, and self-healing materials. Chapter 6 is an investigation of the influence of bulky fluoroalkoxy side groups on the properties of polyphosphazenes. A new series of mixed-substituent high polymeric poly(fluoroalkoxyphosphazenes) containing trifluoroethoxy and branched fluoroalkoxy side groups was synthesized and characterized by NMR and GPC methods. These polymers contained 19–29 mol% of di-branched hexafluoropropoxy groups or 4mol% of tri-branched tert-perfluorobutoxy groups, which serve as regio-irregularities to reduce the macromolecular microcrystallinity. The structure–property correlations of the polymers were then analyzed and interpreted by several techniques: specifically by the thermal behavior by DSC and TGA methods, the crystallinity by wide-angle X-ray diffraction, and the surface hydrophobicity/oleophobicity by contact angle measurements. Ultraviolet crosslinkable elastomers were prepared from the new polymers through the incorporation of 3mol% of 2-allylphenoxy and photo-irradiation. The mechanical properties and the elastomeric deformation–recovery behavior were then monitored by varying the time of ultraviolet irradiation. Side reactions detected during the synthesis of the high polymers, such as side group exchange reactions and alpha-carbon attack, were analyzed via use of a cyclic trimer model system. Chapter 7 is an outline of the exploratory synthesis of a new series of phosphazene model cyclic trimers and single- and mixed- substituent high polymers containing cyclic aliphatic rings, –CnH2n-1 (where n = 4–8). The cylco-aliphatic side group containing phosphazenes expand the structural and property boundaries of phosphazene chemistry, and suggest additional approaches for studying slow macromolecular substitution reactions and substituent exchange reactions. Polymer structure–property relationships are interpreted and correlated to glass transition temperatures, thermal decomposition temperatures, hydrophobicity, and membrane mechanical properties. Films prepared from these polymers are low cost, tough and non-adhesive. They can be used in variety of applications especially where transparency is important.