Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Polymer Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Ryan C. Hayward

Second Advisor

Kenneth R. Carter

Third Advisor

Dhandapani Venkataraman

Subject Categories

Engineering | Polymer Science


This dissertation aims to both deepen and broaden our understanding of copolymers with pendent benzophenone (BP) in relation to both established applications and novel directions in materials science. Photo-reaction of these BP copolymers is explored in attempts to achieve three distinct goals: (1) robust and efficiently photo-crosslinkable solid polymer films, (2) photo-reacted polymer blends with disordered bicontinuous nanostructures, and (3) photo-patterned hydrogel materials with environmental UV stability. We begin by investigating the fundamental gelation behavior of solid polymer films, finding BP copolymers to be particularly effective crosslinkable materials. Gelation efficiency can be tuned according to comonomer chemistry, as BP hydrogen abstraction on the main polymer chain increases chain scission, reducing crosslinking efficiency. This knowledge is then applied in Chapter 3, wherein we discuss two potential methods for preparing nanostructured polymer blends from these copolymers, namely spinodal decomposition of a photo-crosslinked polymer blend and solution-state photografting to create interfacially active species. While each technique shows promise, the ultimate goal of a disordered bicontinuous morphology will require further tuning of materials systems and protocols. Finally, chemical deactivation of BP photo-crosslinker in copolymers for use as photo-patternable and environmentally stable hydrogel materials is investigated. Reduction of BP by sodium borohydride proves a feasible route toward deactivating residual photo-crosslinker in patterned hydrogel films. These results confirm the utility of copolymers with pendent benzophenone photo-crosslinkers as useful tools for complex material systems.