One-pot synthesis of iniferter-bound polystyrene core nanoparticles for the controlled grafting of multilayer shells†
A novel approach using one-pot synthesis for the production of uniform, iniferter-bound polystyrene core nanoparticles of size 30–40 nm is described. Conventional oil-in-water emulsion polymerisation of styrene and divinylbenzene, combining a hybrid initiation system (thermal and UV), triggered sequentially, was employed to form the surface-bound thiocarbamate iniferters in situ. The iniferter cores were then used as seeds for re-initiating further polymerisation by UV irradiation to produce water-compatible core–shell nanoparticles. Grafting of various shell-types is demonstrated: linear polymers of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) brushes, crosslinked polymers bearing different surface charges and molecularly imprinted polymers. The shell thickness was readily tuned by varying the monomers' concentration and polymerisation time. Our method is straightforward and in addition, gives access to the preparation of fluorescent seeds and the possibility of grafting nanosized multiple shells. The core–shell nanoparticles were fully characterised by dynamic light scattering, transmission electron microscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and microelemental analysis.