Synthesis of novel boronic acid-decorated poly(2-oxazoline)s showing triple-stimuli responsive behavior
Boronic acid-functionalized (co)polymers have gained increasing attention in the field of responsive polymers and polymeric materials due to their unique characteristics and responsiveness towards both changes in pH and sugar concentrations. This makes these (co)polymers excellently suited for various applications including responsive membranes, drug delivery applications and sensor materials. Unfortunately, boronic acid-based polymer research is also notorious for its challenging monomer synthesis and polymerization and its overall difficult polymer purification and manipulation. In light of this, many research groups have focused their attention on the optimization of various polymerization techniques in order to expand the field of BA-research including previously unexplored monomers and polymerization techniques. In this paper, a new post-polymerization modification methodology was developed allowing for the synthesis of novel boronic acid-decorated poly(2-alkyl-2-oxazoline) (PAOx) copolymers, utilizing the recently published PAOx methyl ester reaction platform. The developed synthetic pathway provides a straightforward method for the introduction of pH- and glucose-responsiveness, adding this to the already wide variety of possible responsive PAOx-based systems. The synthesized BA-decorated PAOx are based on the thermoresponsive poly(2-n-propyl-2-oxazoline) (PnPropOx). This introduces a pH and glucose dependence on both cloud and clearance point temperatures of the copolymer in aqueous and pH-buffered conditions, yielding a triply-responsive (co)polymer that highlights the wide variety of obtainable properties using this pathway.