Formation of polyoxazoline-silica nanoparticles via the surface-initiated cationic polymerization of 2-methyl-2-oxazoline†
Well-defined polyoxazoline-silica hybrid nanoparticles were prepared by coating silica nanoparticles (SNPs) with poly(2-methyl-2-oxazoline) using a surface-initiated cationic ring-opening polymerization process. First, reverse microemulsion was used to synthesize monodisperse SNPs followed by immobilizing (chloromethyl)phenylethyl)trimethoxysilane on the surface of the nanoparticles acting as an initiator. The grafting density of the polymeric shell was controlled by varying the polymerization time, PSNPs-A, and the monomer/initiator ratio concentration, PSNPs-B. Hybrid nanoparticles were characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The molecular weight and polydispersity indices of the polymer chains were determined by size exclusion chromatography (SEC) after etching the silica core. The hybrid nanoparticles were further functionalized with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) and folic acid (FA) as a fluorescence imaging molecule and a cancer-targeting ligand, respectively. Moreover, hybrid nanoparticles with Rubpy as a fluorophore encapsulated in the silica core and the poly(2-methyl-2-oxazoline) shell were prepared.