Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Chemical and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Bradley Berron


Stimuli-responsive materials are changing the landscape of actuated materials, optoelectronics, molecular machines, solar cells, temporary memory storage, and biomedical materials. Specifically, photo-responsive polymers have gained acceleration in research and application since the last two decades in the form of a surface coating and micro-patterns. Light as a stimulus can be coherent, mono or polychromatic, tunable for power (intensity) and energy (wavelength), and has precise spatiotemporal control. Conventional surface coating techniques such as spin coating are unable to impart properties to the coatings in terms of sturdiness, homogeneity, uniformity over the complex surface, post deposition modification, and process efficiency. Also, in the field of photoreponsive polymers, there is no simple technique for surface-patterning of photo-responsive polymers, which is an important missing link between current research and future potential applications.

This dissertation designs new strategies for light-mediated ring opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) to synthesize a diverse class of stable photo-responsive polymers and coatings.

Firstly, we propose a new synthetic route to functionalize surface-initiated ring opening metathesis polymerization (SI ROMP) coatings. The backbone of ROMP polymers has internal carbon-carbon double bonds which are potential sites to introduce additional functionalities like stimuli-responsive functional groups. We leverage these unsaturated bonds to incorporate functionalized side chains using thiol-ene click chemistry. Thiol-ene chemistry is a versatile approach to attach diverse functional groups at the site of a carbon-carbon double bond. This approach was tested by grafting 3 types of thiols with different functional tail groups and can be readily used for any polyolefin coatings.

Secondly, oxidative degradation of SI ROMP coatings in the organic solvent is a common problem resulting in a decrease in the film thickness due to polymer chain cleavage. We incorporated a custom designed crosslinker to the polynorbornene (pNB) coatings to prepare in situ crosslinked pNB coatings. This approach provides a crosslinked coating of pNB with significantly increased stability against organic solvents by decreasing the film loss from 73 % to 28 %.

Lastly, a novel approach of making photo-responsive polymer by light mediated ROMP is demonstrated. Light mediated control over rate of polymerization is the key feature required for patterning surface with photoresponsive polymers. We achieved this goal by designing and synthesizing a monomer that effectively controls the activity of the catalyst by temporarily deactivating it on irradiation with UV 365 nm light and reactivating it back by irradiation with blue 455 nm light to resume the ROMP.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)