Hydrophobic methacrylic monomers were polymerized in aqueous media using methylated (1.8)-β-cyclodextrin (MeCD) additives. Hydrophobic monomers tert-butyl methacrylate (tBuMA), cyclohexyl methacrylate (CMA), and 2-ethylhexyl methacrylate (2EHMA) were each dissolved in chloroform with MeCD. Chloroform was then evaporated to yield solid monomer/cyclodextrin complexes. Complexes were shown by 1H NMR and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) to have molar ratios of monomer to MeCD as high as 0.72/1.00. The water-soluble complexes were readily polymerized in aqueous media using free radical initiation. During polymerization, hydrophobic methacrylic polymers precipitated and the majority of MeCD remained in solution. Poly(alkyl methacrylates) synthesized via this method exhibited number-average molecular weights ranging from 50 000 to 150 000 with polydispersities from 3.2 to 5.5 depending on monomer structure, and isolated yields were as high as 86%. Additionally, corresponding methacrylic/ carbohydrate films were prepared and examined. High molecular weight poly(tBuMA), poly(CMA), and poly(2EHMA) were blended with MeCD to produce optically clear films with as high as 20 wt % MeCD. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) characterization indicated that the glass transition temperatures of these novel carbohydrate blends were controllable over a 20°C range depending on the relative concentration of each component.
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