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© 2016 American Chemical Society. Zwitterionic ring-opening polymerization (ZROP) of N-butyl N-carboxyanhydrides (Bu-NCAs) has been investigated using 1,8-diazabicycloundec-7-ene (DBU), a bicyclic amidine initiator. It was found that poly(N-butylglycine)s (PNBGs) with molecular weight (Mn) in the 3.5-32.4 kg mol-1 range and polydispersity index (PDI) in the 1.02-1.12 range can be readily obtained by systematically varying the initial monomer to initiator feed ratio. The polymerization exhibits characteristics of a controlled polymerization, as evidenced by the linear increase of polymer molecular weight with conversion and the successful enchainment experiments. Kinetic studies revealed that the reaction is first-order dependent on the monomer and the DBU concentration. The rate of initiation is comparable to that of the propagation. Random copolypeptoids of poly[(N-propargylglycine)-r-(N-butylglycine)]s [P(NPgG-r-NBG)s] were also synthesized by DBU-mediated copolymerization of Bu-NCA and N-propargyl N-carboxyanhydride (Pg-NCA). Subsequent grafting with azido-terminated poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) produces bottlebrush copolymers. Analysis of bottlebrush copolymer samples using atomic force microscopy (AFM) revealed a surface morphology of toroid-shaped nanostructures, consistent with the polypeptoid backbone having cyclic architecture. Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) characterization of the bottlebrush polymer ensemble in solution also confirms the cyclic architecture of the polypeptoid backbones.

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