Nanotube friendly poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)
Poly(N-ispropylacrylamide) [PNIPAM] is a widely studied polymer for use in biological applications due to its lower critical solution temperature (LCST) being so close to the human body temperature. Unfortunately, attempts to combine carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with PNIPAM have been unsuccessful due to poor interactions between these two materials. In this work, a PNIPAM copolymer with 1 mol-% pyrene side group [p-PNIPAM] was used to produce a thermoresponsive polymer capable of stabilizing both single and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) in water. The presence of pyrene in the polymer chain lowers the LCST less than 4oC and the interaction with nanotubes does not show any influence on LCST. Moreover, p-PNIPAM stabilized nanotubes show a temperature-dependent dispersion in water that allows the level of nanotube exfoliation/bundling to be controlled. Cryo-TEM images, turbidity, and viscosity of these suspensions were used to characterize these thermoresponsive changes. This ability to manipulate the dispersion state of CNTs in water with p-PNIPAM will likely benefit many biological applications, such as drug delivery, optical sensors, and hydrogels.
Etika, KC; Jochum, FD; Cox, MA; Shcattling, P; Theato, P; Grunlan, JC; Macromol. Rapid Commun., 2010, 31 (15), 1368-1372.