Copoly(2-oxazoline)s, prepared by the cationic ring-opening polymerization of 2-(dec-9-enyl)-2-oxazoline with either 2-methyl-2-oxazoline or 2-ethyl-2-oxazoline, are crosslinked with small dithiol molecules under UV irradiation to form homogeneous networks. In situ monitoring of the crosslinking reaction by photo-rheology reveals the formation of soft gels within minutes. The degree of swelling in water is tunable based on the hydrophilicity of the starting macromers and the proportion of alkene side arms present. Furthermore, degradable hydrogels are prepared based on incorporation of a hydrolytically cleavable dithiol crosslinker. The rapid synthesis of the macromers and mild crosslinking conditions make these materials ideal for future biomaterial applications.
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