Zwitterionic Poly(vinylidene fluoride) Graft Copolymer with Unexpected Fluorescence Property

Recently, there has been a growth of research on the nonconjugated polymer exhibiting fluorescence property and it would be exciting if fluorescence property is developed in zwitterionic polymers because of their good water solubility. Poly­(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) grafted with poly­(dimethyl amino ethyl methacrylate) (PDMAEMA) is fractionated and a highly water-soluble fraction (PVDM-1) is quaternized with 1,3-propane sultone, producing a zwitterionic polymer, PVDF-g-PDMAEMA-sultone (PVDMS). PVDM-1 shows the fluorescence property with very low quantum yield (1%) in water, but on quaternization, fluorescence quantum yield increases to 8%. Transmission electron microscopy results indicate that the PVDM-1 cast from water has vesicular morphology, whereas PVDMS exhibits aggregated vesicular morphology. The 1H NMR spectra indicate the presence of 72 mol % DMAEMA in PVDM-1 wherein 66% of -NMe2 groups is quaternized upon postpolymerization modification. PVDM-1 exhibits absorption peaks at 210, 276, and 457 nm with a hump at 430 nm, whereas PVDMS exhibits two absorption peaks at 203 and 297 nm. PVDM-1 exhibits a broad emission peak at 534 nm, whereas PVDMS exhibits a sharp emission peak at 438 nm. An attempt has been made from density functional theory calculations to shed light on the origin of fluorescence in both PVDM-1 and in the zwitterionic PVDMS. The excitonic decay occurs from the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) of carbonyl group to the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) of tertiary amine group for PVDM-1, whereas in PVDMS, the excitonic transition occurs from the LUMO situated over the quaternary ammonium group to the HOMO located on the electron-rich terminal sulfonate group.