Publication: A self-healable fluorescence active hydrogel based on ionic block copolymers prepared via ring opening polymerization and xanthate mediated RAFT polymerization

We are delighted to publish the first of several collaborations with our colleagues in IIT Kharagpur has been accepted for publication with RSC journal Polymer Chemistry. This publication, outlining a self healing fluorescent hydrogel, is a functional demonstration of new material types we have been actively developing for several years. Read the article at the RSC Polymer chemistry website.


In this work we report a facile method to prepare a fluorescence active self-healable hydrogel via incorporation of fluorescence responsive ionic block copolymers (BCPs). Ionic block copolymers were prepared via a combined effect of ring opening polymerization (ROP) of ε-caprolactone and xanthate mediated reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization. Here polycaprolactone (PCL) was modified with xanthate to prepare a PCL based macro-RAFT agent and then it was utilized to prepare block copolymers with cationic poly(2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyltrimethyl ammonium chloride) (PCL-b-PMTAC) and anionic poly(sodium 4-vinylbenzenesulfonate) (PCL-b-PSS). During the block formation, the cationic segments were randomly copolymerized with a trace amount of fluorescein O-acrylate (FA) (acceptor) whereas the anionic segments were randomly copolymerized with a trace amount of 9-anthryl methylmethacrylate (AMMA) (donor) to make both the segments fluorescent. The block copolymers form micelles in a DMF : water mixture (1 : 4 volume ratio). The ionic interaction of two BCPs was monitored via Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) and zeta potential measurements. The oppositely charged BCPs were incorporated into a polyacrylamide (PAAm) based hydrogel that demonstrated self-healing behavior and is also highly fluorescent.

The full paper can be found on the Royal Society of Chemistry website here.