Design and synthesis of novel hydrogels for biological applications
The aims of this project were: 1) the synthesis of a range of new polyether-based vinylic monomers and their incorporation into poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (poly(HEMA)) based hydrogel networks, of interest to the contact lens industry. 2) the synthesis of a range of alkyltartronic acids, and their derivatives. These molecules may ultimately be used to produce functionalised poly(-hydroxy acids) of potential interest in either drug delivery or surgical suture applications. The novel syntheses of a range of both methoxy poly(ethylene glycol) acrylates (MPEGAs) and poly(ethylene glycol) acrylates (PEGAs) are described. Products were obtained in very good yields. These new polyether-based vinylic monomers were copolymerised with 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) to produce a range of hydrogels. The equilibrium water contents (EWC) and surface properties of these copolymers containing linear polyethers were examined. It was found that the EWC was enhanced by the presence of the hydrophilic polyether chains. Results suggest that the polyether side chains express themselves at the polymer surface, thus dictating the surface properties of the gels. Consequentially, this leads to an advantageous reduction in the surface adhesion of biological species. A synthesis of a range of alkyltartronic acids is also described. The acids prepared were obtained in very good yields using a novel four-stage synthesis. These acids were modified to give potassium monoethyl alkyltartronates. Although no polyesterification is described in this thesis, these modified alkyltartronic acid derivatives are considered to be potentially excellent starting materials for poly (alkyltartronic acid) synthesis via anhydrocarboxylate or anhydrosulphite cyclic monomers.