Colorful Polyelectrolytes: An Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization Route to Fluorescent Polystyrene Sulfonate

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A labeled green fluorescent polystyrene sulfonate (LNaPSS) has been synthesized using atom transfer radical polymerization of a styrene sulfonate monomer with a fluorescent co-monomer, fluorescein thiocyanate-vinyl aniline. As a result this 100 % sulfonated polymer contains no hydrophobic patches along the chain backbone besides the fluorescent marker itself. The concentration of the fluorescent monomer was kept low to maintain the characteristic properties of the anionic polyelectrolyte, LNaPSS. ATRP conditions facilitated the production of polymers spanning a range of molecular weights from 35,000 to 175,000 in gram-scale batches with polydispersity indices of 1.01-1.24. Molecular weight increased with the monomer to initiator ratio. Gel permeation chromatography results show a unimodal distribution, and the polymer structure was also confirmed by (1)H NMR and FT-IR spectroscopy. Fluorescence spectroscopy confirmed covalent bonding of fluorescein isothiocyanate to the polymer, indicating that the polymer is suitable as a probe in fluorescence microscopy. To demonstrate this ability, the polymer was used to locate structural features in salt crystals formed during drying, as in the evaporation of sea mist. A second application to probe diffusion studies is also demonstrated.

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Journal of fluorescence

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