Self-Assembly of Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) Microgel Thin Films
Serpe, Michael Joseph
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The assembly of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-acrylic acid) (pNIPAm-co-AAc) microgel thin films into disordered and ordered arrays was investigated. Disordered pNIPAm-co-AAc microgel arrays were assembled based on electrostatic attractions between polyanionic pNIPAm-co-AAc microgels and polycationic poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH). These interactions were studied in solution and subsequently used to assemble thin films following a Layer-by-Layer assembly protocol. Thin films were assembled as a function of pNIPAm-co-AAc microgel solution temperature and the resultant film thermoresponsivity characterized as a function of microgel layer number and pH. The response of assembled thin films to pH 3.0 and 6.5 exposure was then characterized by quartz crystal impedance and surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy, which showed that the thin film solvation was highly dependent on the pH of the solution it was in. Assembled thin films were also shown to be useful as controlled drug delivery platforms, where it was found that small molecules could be released from the films in a temperature regulated fashion. Microgel thin films also exhibited unique optical properties and were used as microlens arrays, which were able to focus pattern in air as well as in solution and had focal lengths that could be tuned in response to pH and temperature changes. Ordered microgel arrays were assembled following a thermal annealing process, in order to make light diffracting materials. These ordered arrays were photopolymerized and exhibited temperature dependent Bragg diffraction properties.