Synthesis and Characterization of Polymeric Materials Derived from 2,5-Diketopiperazines and Pyroglutamic Acid

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Polymers and High Performance Materials

First Advisor

Lon J. Mathias

Advisor Department

Polymers and High Performance Materials


The research presented in this dissertation describes the investigation of 2,5-diketopiperazines (DKPs) as property modifiers for addition polymers and the self association behavior of pyroglutamic acid derivatives. The first project involved the copolymerization of methyl methacrylate and styrene with DKP-based methacrylate monomers. Low incorporations of serine- and aspartame-based DKPs in the copolymer resulted in dramatic increases in the glass transition temperature (Ts). The research presented in Chapter II focuses on the ring-opening reactions of pyroglutamic diketopiperazine (pyDKP). The original intent was to synthesize polymers containing backbone DKPs through ring-opening polymerization of the five-membered rings. However, it was discovered that regioselective ring-opening occurs at the six-membered ring to give pyroglutamic acid derivatives. Since this reaction had not been reported previously, the focus of research was altered to investigate the scope and limitations of the new reaction. The ring-opening reactions of pyDKP with diamines to give bispyroglutamides is described in Chapter IV. While these materials are not polymeric, they display polymeric behavior. It was found that multi-functional pyroglutamides display Tg s during thermal analysis, exhibit high thermal stability, and form melt-drawn fibers. In contrast, the materials have low solution viscosities and are freely soluble in water, ethanol, and chloroform. This behavior is attributed to non-covalent supramolecular associations. The final part of this dissertation involved the investigation of thermoreversible organic solvent gelators. The ring-opening reaction of pyDKP with long alkyl amines unexpectedly gelled the reaction solvent. A series of analogous gelators were synthesized, and the minimum concentration required for gelation in various solvents was determined. It was found that the nature of the solvent, alkyl chain length, and optical activity of the gelator determined gelator efficiency and gel structure.