Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Dr. Douglas H. Adamson, Dr. Alexandru D. Asandei, Dr. Rajeswari M. Kasi

Field of Study



Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


Poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) is a nonionic hydrophilic polymer having the same repeat unit as poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG). It is of interest in both biology and materials science. PEO surfaces demonstrate a unique lack of protein adhesion, and PEO block copolymers are widely used in applications such as drug delivery. Unfortunately, the synthesis of PEO homopolymers and block copolymers can be experimentally challenging, with a typical method involving air sensitive organometallics and the removal of compounds such as naphthalene from the final product. Here we report a synthetic route that avoids these difficulties by using azeotropic distillation to remove water from the equilibrium reaction of an alkyl hydroxide and potassium hydroxide reacting to form water and a potassium alkoxide. Removing the water right side of the reaction drives the equilibrium to the right, towards the potassium alkoxide, avoiding the use of pyrophoric organometallics. GPC and NMR are used to characterize the PEO polymers made from various alcohols, polystyrene end capped with ethylene oxide single monomer unit and initiators containing amine and amide functional groups.

Major Advisor

Dr. Douglas H Adamson