Hydrogels containing linear and cyclic polyethers
Hydrogels are a unique class of polymer which swell, but do not dissolve in, water. A range of 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate based copolymer hydrogels containing both cyclic and linear polyethers have been synthesised and are described in this thesis. Initially, cyclic polyethers were occluded within the polymer matrix and the transport properties investigated. The results indicated that the presence of an ionophore can be used to modulate ion transport and that ion transport is described by a dual-sorption mechanism. However, these studies were limited due to ionophore loss during hydration. Hence, the synthesis of a range of acrylate based crown ether monomers was considered. A pure sample of 4-acryolylaminobenzo-15-crown-5 was obtained and a terpolymer containing this monomer was prepared. Transport studies illustrated that the presence of a `bound' ionophore modulates ion transport in a similar way to the occluded systems. The transport properties of a series of terpolymers containing linear polyethers were then investigated. The results indicated that the dual-sorption mechanism is observed for these systems with group II metal cations while the transport of group I metal cations, with the exception of sodium, is enhanced. Finally, the equilibrium water contents (EWC) surface and mechanical properties of these terpolymers containing linear polyethers were examined. Although subtle variations in EWC are observed as the structure of the polyether side chain varies, generally EWC is enhanced due to the hydrophilicity of the polyether side chain. The macroscopic surface properties were investigated using a sessile drop technique and FTIR spectroscopy. At a molecular level surface properties were probed using an in vitro ocular spoilation model and preliminary cell adhesion studies. The results indicate that the polyethylene oxide side chains are expressed at the polymer surface thus reducing the adhesion of biological species.