For developing thermoresponsive chromatographic matrices with a strong hydrophobicity, poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-n-butyl methacrylate) (poly(IPAAm-co-BMA)) brush grafted silica beads were prepared through a surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) with a CuCl/CuCl2/Me6TREN catalytic system in 2-propanol at 25 °C for 16 h. The prepared beads were characterized by chromatographic analysis. Chromatograms of the benzoic-acid family and phenol as model analytes were obtained with high-resolution peaks because of their strong hydrophobic interactions to the densely grafted hydrophobized copolymers on the beads. Retention times of the analytes increased with the increase in BMA composition ratio. Dehydration of grafted copolymer with large BMA composition was performed at low temperature. These results indicated that the copolymer-brush-grafted surface prepared by ATRP was an effective tool for separating hydrophilic analytes at low temperature through modulating the strong hydrophobic interaction.
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