Synthesis and Characterization of Block Copolymers of Styrene-maleic Acid with Acrylamide and N,N-dimethylacrylamide

Thidarat Khaojanta, Wichaya Kalaithong, Runglawan Somsunan, Patchara Punyamoonwongsa, Anisa Mahomed, Paul D. Topham, Brian J. Tighe, Robert Molloy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Styrene-maleic acid (SMA) block copolymers with either acrylamide (AM) or N,N-dimethylacrylamide (DMA) have been synthesized via a 3-step process comprising: (1) photopolymerization of styrene and maleic anhydride in solution to yield an alternating styrene maleic anhydride (SMAnh) copolymer, (2) copolymerization of SMAnh with either AM or DMA to yield SMAnh-b-AM and SMAnh-b-DMA block copolymers and (3) hydrolysis of the anhydride groups to yield water-soluble SMA-b-AM and SMA-b-DMA block copolymers as the final products. With a view to their intended application in membrane protein solubilization, molecular weights are controlled to below 10,000 by the synthesis conditions employed in step (1), including using carbon tetrabromide (CBr4) as a chain transfer agent. The CBr4 also plays an important role in step (2). By terminating the SMAnh chain radicals from step (1) with C-Br bonds that are photolytically active, SMAnh chain radicals can be regenerated to act as macroinitiators for the polymerization of AM or DMA in step (2). Finally, following step (3) and due to the pH-dependency of the SMA chain conformation in solution, a pH of 7-8 is found to be optimal for enabling the final products to be precipitated in a solid form that is completely soluble in water.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2031-2046
Number of pages16
JournalPolymer Engineering and Science
Issue number6
Early online date9 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 Society of Plastics Engineers. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: 'Khaojanta, T., Kalaithong, W., Punyamoonwongsa, P., Mahomed, A. et al (2022) "Synthesis and Characterization of Block Copolymers of Styrene-maleic Acid with Acrylamide and N,N-dimethylacrylamide" Polymer Engineering and Science,' which has been published in final form at [Link to final article using the DOI here once published]. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.

This research was supported by the Program Management Unit for Human Resources & Institutional Development, Research and Innovation; Office of National Higher Education, Science Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO) [Grant Number B16F640001] and the Center of Excellence in Materials Science and Technology, Chiang Mai University. The research also received support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 871650 (MEDIPOL).


  • N,N-dimethylacrylamide
  • acrylamide
  • block copolymers
  • membrane protein solubilization
  • styrene-maleic acid
  • styrene-maleic anhydride


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