A new family sociating polymers based on four-arm, star-shaped poly(D,L-lactide) (PDLLA) containing peripheral complementary hydrogen-bonding sites is described. Hydroxy-terminated, four-arm, star-shaped PDLLAs of controlled molar mass were functionalized with complementary DNA base pairs, adenine (A) and thymine (T), to obtain PDLLA-A and PDLLA-T, respectively. 1H NMR spectroscopy confirmed quantitative functionalization and the subsequent formation of PDLLA-A and PDILLA-T hydrogen-bonded complexes. Job's analysis revealed a 1:1 optimal stoichiometry for the hydrogen-bonded complexes, and the association constant (Ka) that was determined using the 1H NMR-based Benesi-Hildebrand treatment was 84 M-1 for the low molar mass complementary polymers. Furthermore, the PDLLA-based hydrogen-bonded complexes exhibited higher solution viscosities compared to the corresponding non-hydrogen-bonded precursors, which further confirmed strong complementary multiple-hydrogen-bonding associations between the star-shaped polymers with terminal adenine and thymine groups. Moreover, variable-temperature 1H NMR studies demonstrated the thermoreversibility of the hydrogen-bonded PDLLA-based complexes in solution.
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