Pseudo-graft polymer based on adamantyl-terminated poly(oligo(ethylene glycol) methacrylate) and homopolymer with cyclodextrin as pendant: its thermoresponsivity through polymeric self-assembly and host–guest inclusion complexation
A series of well-defined adamantyl-terminated thermally responsive copolymers (Ad-POEGMAs) were synthesized by atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP), in which 2-(2-methoxyethoxy) ethyl methacrylate (MEO2MA) and oligo(ethylene glycol) methacrylate (OEGMA) served as the thermosensitive building blocks. Moreover, cyclodextrins (CDs) as bulky pendant grafted polymers (PGCD) were synthesized by homopolymerization of aminoethyl methacrylate β-cyclodextrin (GCD). The thermal-responsive behaviors were investigated by a combination of 1H NMR, UV-vis spectroscopy, dynamic light scattering (DLS), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). In comparison to other thermal-responsive copolymers based on POEGMAs, Ad-POEGMAs exhibited unusual thermally induced aggregation processes. The Ad group assembled and POEGMA chains associated to produce stable water-soluble nano-aggregates, followed by a rearrangement process at the second thermal transition. Moreover, it was found that a noncovalently connected supramolecular pseudo-graft polymer was formed via inclusion complexation in aqueous solution. This pseudo-graft polymer underwent a reversible temperature-induced transition from solution to micelle under suitable conditions. The cyclodextrin (CD) moiety attached to the main chain played two roles. As supramolecular host moieties, CDs formed inclusion complexes with guest-ended polymers, leading to graft-like polymers. As bulky hydrophilic moieties, CDs stabilized the micelles induced by the coil-to-globule transition of POEGMA segments.