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Redox-Responsive Gels with Tunable Hydrophobicity for Controlled Solubilization and Release of Organics

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journal contribution
posted on 27.04.2011, 00:00 authored by Abhinav Akhoury, Lev Bromberg, T. Alan Hatton
The hydrophobicity of the chemical environment within a redox-responsive polymer gel synthesized by copolymerization of hydroxybutyl methacrylate (HBMA) and vinylferrocene (VF) can be controlled by tuning the oxidation state of the redox-responsive moiety, ferrocene. When ferrocene is in the uncharged reduced state, the gel is hydrophobic and selectively extracts butanol from aqueous solution. Upon oxidation to ferricenium ions, charge is induced at the ferrocene sites making the gel hydrophilic, with a reduced capacity for butanol relative to water. Equilibrium distribution coefficients and separation factors provide quantitative evidence for this changing preference for butanol depending on oxidation state. The selection of the monomer constituting the polymer backbone, HBMA, was based on an initial screening using the Hansen solubility parameters of commercially available monomers. The effect of the various constituents of the gel on the gel’s butanol extraction ability has been ascertained experimentally.