Thermoresponsive polymers with lower critical solution temperature: from fundamental aspects and measuring techniques to recommended turbidimetry conditions†
Thermoresponsive polymers that undergo reversible phase transition by responding to an environmental temperature change, in particular polymers showing lower critical solution temperature (LCST), are frequently used as smart materials that have found increasing applications. Recently, there has been a rapid growth in interest on LCST polymers and many new research groups are entering the field from a wide range of application areas. While it is great to see more researchers working on LCST polymers, the downside of this rapid growth is that the fundamentals of the LCST phase transition behavior are not always clearly known and respected. Hence, this focus article provides a systematic discussion of the key aspects of the LCST behavior of polymers starting from fundamentals of LCST behavior to practical determination of cloud point temperature (Tcp). Finally, we offer a basic set of recommended measuring conditions for determination of Tcp (10 mg mL−1; 0.5 °C min−1; 600 nm) to facilitate the comparison of the LCST behavior and Tcp values of polymers developed and studied in different laboratories around the globe, which is nowadays nearly impossible since various techniques and parameters are being utilized for the measurements. It should be noted that these recommended conditions serve as a robust tool for turbidimetry, which is one out of the many characterization techniques one should utilize to fully understand LCST behavior of polymers.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Focus article collection