Thermo-responsive nanoparticles (NPs), i.e., colloids with a sharp and often reversible phase separation in response to thermal stimuli, are coming to the forefront due to their dynamic behavior, useful in applications ranging from biomedicine to advanced separations and smart optics. What is guiding the macroscopic behavior of these systems above their critical temperature is mainly the microstructure of the polymer chains of which these NPs are comprised. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the influence of the polymer properties over the thermal response is highly required to reproducibly target a specific behavior. In this study, we synthesized thermoresponsive NPs with different size, polymeric microstructure and hydrophilic-lipophilic balance (HLB) and investigated the role of these properties over their phase separation. We first synthesized four different thermo-responsive oligomers via Reversible Addition-Fragmentation Chain Transfer (RAFT) Polymerization of poly(ethylene glycol)methyl ether methacrylate. Then, exploiting the RAFT living character, we chain-extended these oligomers with butyl methacrylate obtaining a library of NPs. Finally, we investigated the NP thermo-responsive behavior, their physical state above the cloud point (Tcp) as well as their reversibility once the stimulus is removed. We concluded that the solid content plays a minor role compared to the relative length of the two blocks forming the polymer chains. In particular, the longer the stabilizer, the more favored the formation of a gel. At the same time, the reversibility is mainly achieved at high HLB, independently from the absolute lengths of the block copolymers.

Influence of the polymer microstructure over the phase separation of thermo-responsive nanoparticles

Manfredini N.;Tomasoni M.;Sponchioni M.;Moscatelli D.
2021-01-01

Abstract

Thermo-responsive nanoparticles (NPs), i.e., colloids with a sharp and often reversible phase separation in response to thermal stimuli, are coming to the forefront due to their dynamic behavior, useful in applications ranging from biomedicine to advanced separations and smart optics. What is guiding the macroscopic behavior of these systems above their critical temperature is mainly the microstructure of the polymer chains of which these NPs are comprised. Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the influence of the polymer properties over the thermal response is highly required to reproducibly target a specific behavior. In this study, we synthesized thermoresponsive NPs with different size, polymeric microstructure and hydrophilic-lipophilic balance (HLB) and investigated the role of these properties over their phase separation. We first synthesized four different thermo-responsive oligomers via Reversible Addition-Fragmentation Chain Transfer (RAFT) Polymerization of poly(ethylene glycol)methyl ether methacrylate. Then, exploiting the RAFT living character, we chain-extended these oligomers with butyl methacrylate obtaining a library of NPs. Finally, we investigated the NP thermo-responsive behavior, their physical state above the cloud point (Tcp) as well as their reversibility once the stimulus is removed. We concluded that the solid content plays a minor role compared to the relative length of the two blocks forming the polymer chains. In particular, the longer the stabilizer, the more favored the formation of a gel. At the same time, the reversibility is mainly achieved at high HLB, independently from the absolute lengths of the block copolymers.
2021
Emulsion polymerization
LCST
Phase diagram
Phase separation
Polymeric nanoparticles
RAFT
Smart materials
Thermo-responsive polymers
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/1182305
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