Tuning the aggregation behavior of pH-responsive micelles by copolymerization†
Amphiphilic diblock copolymers, poly(2-(diethylamino)ethyl methacrylate-co-2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate)-b-poly(2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate), P(DEAEMA-co-DMAEMA)-b-PDMAEMA with various amounts of DEAEMA have been synthesized by RAFT polymerization. Their micellization in water has been investigated by scattering measurements over a wide pH range. It appeared that the polymers self-assembled into pH sensitive star like micelles. For a given composition, when the pH is varied the extent of aggregation can be tuned reversibly by orders of magnitude. By varying the copolymer composition in the hydrophobic block, the onset and extent of aggregation were shifted with respect to pH. This class of diblock copolymer offers the possibility to select the range of stimuli-responsiveness that is useful for a given application, which can rarely be achieved with conventional diblock copolymers consisting of homopolymeric blocks.