Langmuir, Vol.32, No.3, 765-771, 2016
Sulfone-Containing Methacrylate Homopolymers: Wetting and Thermal Properties
Although the sulfonyl functional group has a large dipole moment and compounds containing them (sulfones) have correspondingly high dielectric constants, this chemical structure has been neglected for use as a functional group to render surfaces hydrophilic. We have prepared three methacrylate polymers containing side chains capped with sulfolane, methylsulfone, and ethylsulfone functionality. The sulfolane-containing polymer exhibits an unusually high glass transition temperature (T-g = 188 degrees C) for a methacrylate polymer and slightly different thermal degradation behavior than the other two sulfone-containing polymers, likely due to the bulky structure of the sulfolane group in the polymer side chain. At macroscopic polymer film/water interfaces, the sulfone-containing side chains exposed to the interface impart hydrophilic properties as assessed by contact angle analysis. The hydrophilicities of sulfolane and methylsulfone surfaces are similar, and greater than the ethylsulfone surface. Although the chemical compositions of the sulfolane and ethylsulfone polymers are almost identical, the five-membered ring structure of sulfolane allows the sulfonyl moiety to be exposed at the interface in a manner similar to that of the methylsulfone polymer. The sulfonyl group at the ethylsulfone polymer/water interface is slightly masked by the ethyl group. Interestingly, the sulfolane surface displays a higher affinity to methylene iodide and n-hexadecane probe fluids compared to the other sulfone surfaces, suggesting that the five-membered ring structure of the sulfolane moiety can orient in a manner that shelters the sulfonyl group at hydrophobic interfaces.