Logo JG-Universität MainzProf. Dr. Axel Müller


405. Gensel, J.; Betthausen, E.; Hasenöhrl, C.; Trenkenschuh, K.; Hund, M.; Boulmedais, F.; Schaaf, P.; Müller, A.H.E.; Fery, A.: Surface immobilized block copolymer micelles with switchable accessibility of hydrophobic pockets, Soft Matter 7, 11144 (2011) -- DOI: 10.1039/C1SM06338C

We report on a novel approach for the design of stimuli-responsive surfaces based on the surface immobilization of charged ABC triblock terpolymer micelles composed of a hydrophobic polybutadiene (B) block, a pH-responsive poly(methacrylic acid) (MAA) middle block, and a permanently charged cationic end block of quaternized poly(2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) (Dq) (BMAADq). In alkaline solutions, this polymer forms core-shell-corona micelles with a hydrophobic B core, a pH-sensitive MAA/Dq intramicellar interpolyelectrolyte complex (im-IPEC) shell, and a cationic corona of excess Dq. The micelles were directly adsorbed onto charged silica creating a monolayer of individual micelles. The adsorption kinetics was found to follow the theoretical model of random sequential adsorption (RSA). Exposure of the adsorbed micelles to external stimuli (at pH < pKa,app of PMAA) induces im-IPEC dissolution due to protonation of the MAA block resulting in a changed composition of the shell and both the length and charge density of the corona. Two types of conformational response to pH-trigger and therefore, two types of dynamics coupled to fast and longest relaxation times are involved in the system. The response to pH cycling was shown to be reversible on the short-term scale while the long-term exposure to acidic media causes irreversible changes in the morphology of the micelles as a consequence of the micelles' core mobility and slow rearrangement. In contrast, surface particles with covalently crosslinked B cores show higher stability to irreversible morphology changes while maintaining the reversible response to pH-cycling.

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