Date of Award

Winter 2015

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Erik B Berda

Second Advisor

Charles K Zercher

Third Advisor

John Tsavalas


A technique for fabricating advanced polymer nanostructures enjoying recent popularity is the collapse or folding of single polymer chains in highly dilute solution mediated by intramolecular cross-linking. We term the resultant structures single-chain nanoparticles (SCNP). This technique has proven particularly valuable in the synthesis of nanomaterials on the order of 5 – 20 nm. Many different types of covalent and non-covalent chemistries have been used to this end.

This dissertation investigates the use of so-called single-chain technology to synthesize nanoparticles using modular techniques that allow for easy incorporation of functionality or special structural or characteristic features. Specifically, the synthesis of linear polymers functionalized with pendant monomer units and the subsequent intramolecular polymerization of these monomer units is discussed.

In chapter 2, the synthesis of SCNP using alternating radical polymerization is described. Polymers functionalized with pendant styrene and stilbene groups are synthesized via a modular post-polymerization Wittig reaction. These polymers were exposed to radical initiators in the presence (and absence) of maleic anhydride and other electron deficient monomers in order to form intramolecular cross-links. Chapter 3 discusses templated acyclic diene metathesis (ADMET) polymerization using single-chain technology, starting with the controlled ring-opening polymerization of a glycidyl ether functionalized with an ADMET monomer. This polymer was then exposed to Grubbs’ catalyst to polymerize the ADMET monomer units. The ADMET polymer was hydrolytically cleaved from the template and separated. Upon characterization, it was found that the daughter ADMET polymer had a similar degree of polymerization, but did not retain the low dispersity of the template. Chapter 4 details the synthesis of aldehyde- and diol-functionalized polymers toward the synthesis of SCNP containing dynamic, acid-degradable acetal cross-links. SCNP fabrication with these materials is beyond the scope of this dissertation.