Sequence distributions in free-radical polymers
The initial part of this thesis is concerned with demonstrating the use of a computer simulation technique, in illustrating the sequence distribution that would be observed upon the polymerisation of a set of monomers. The power of the computer simulation technique has been demonstrated through the simulation of the sequence distributions of some generic contact lens materials. These generic contact lens materials were chosen simply because in the field of biomaterials their compositions are amongst the most systematically regulated and they present a wide range of compositions. The validity of the computer simulation technique has been assessed through the synthesis and analysis of linear free-radical polymers at different conversions. Two main parameters were examined, that of composition and the number-average sequence lengths of individual monomer units, at various conversions. The polymers were synthesized through the solution polymerisation process. The monomer composition was determined by elemental analysis and 13C nuclear magnetic analysis (NMR). Number-average sequence lengths were determined exclusively through 13C NMR. Although the computer simulation technique provides a visual representation of the monomer sequence distribution up to 100% conversion, these assessments were made on linear polymers at a reasonably high conversion (above 50%) but below 100% conversion of ease for analysis. The analyses proved that the computer simulation technique was reasonably accurate in predicting the sequence distribution of monomer units, upon polymerisation, in the polymer. An approach has been presented which allows one to manipulate the use of monomers, with their reactivity ratios, thereby enabling us to design polymers with controlled sequence distributions. Hydrogel membranes, with relatively controlled sequence distributions and polymerised to 100% conversion, were synthesized to represent prospective biomaterials. Cell adhesion studies were used as a biological probe to investigate the susceptibility of the surface of these membranes to cell adhesion. This was necessary in order to assess the surface biocompatibility or biotolerance of these prospective biomaterials.