Open Access Nano Express

Grafting of Poly(methyl methacrylate) Brushes from Magnetite Nanoparticles Using a Phosphonic Acid Based Initiator by Ambient Temperature Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization (ATATRP)

Kothandapani Babu and Raghavachari Dhamodharan*

Author Affiliations

Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology—Madras, Chennai, 600 036, India

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2008, 3:109-117  doi:10.1007/s11671-008-9121-9

Published: 4 March 2008


Poly(methyl methacrylate) in the brush form is grown from the surface of magnetite nanoparticles by ambient temperature atom transfer radical polymerization (ATATRP) using a phosphonic acid based initiator. The surface initiator was prepared by the reaction of ethylene glycol with 2-bromoisobutyrl bromide, followed by the reaction with phosphorus oxychloride and hydrolysis. This initiator is anchored to magnetite nanoparticles via physisorption. The ATATRP of methyl methacrylate was carried out in the presence of CuBr/PMDETA complex, without a sacrificial initiator, and the grafting density is found to be as high as 0.90 molecules/nm2. The organic–inorganic hybrid material thus prepared shows exceptional stability in organic solvents unlike unfunctionalized magnetite nanoparticles which tend to flocculate. The polymer brushes of various number average molecular weights were prepared and the molecular weight was determined using size exclusion chromatography, after degrafting the polymer from the magnetite core. Thermogravimetric analysis, X-ray photoelectron spectra and diffused reflection FT-IR were used to confirm the grafting reaction.

Magnetite nanoparticles; Organic–inorganic hybrid material; Phosphonic acid initiator; ATRP; Stable dispersion