Nanoparticles assembled via pH-responsive reversible segregation of cyclodextrins in polyrotaxanes†
Supramolecular polymers with monomers bound together by secondary interactions, such as polyrotaxanes (PRXs), consisting of alpha cyclodextrin (αCD) threaded onto poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), have attracted interest as a result of their ability to overcome physical limitations present in conventional, covalently structured polymers. Herein, we describe the formation of pH-responsive supramolecular assemblies from carboxyethylester bearing αCD and PEG PRXs. These PRXs were formed using PEG of Mw 20 kDa and a threading degree of 28%. Upon charge neutralisation the threaded αCDs co-localise, resulting in aggregation of the PRXs and the formation of a suspension by self-assembly. This process is shown to be reversible and possible via the mobility of CDs along the PEG guest chain. As a result of the inherent properties of PRXs, such as enhanced multivalent interactions and degradation, these responsive supramolecular polymers are expected to be of interest in fields where PRX-based materials have already found application, including paints, self-healing materials, surface coatings, and polymer therapeutics.