This article reports the synthesis of poly(N-vinylcaprolactam-co-N-methylolacrylamide) (P(NVCL-co-NMA)) nanogels and investigates their thermo-/pH-responsive behavior. The formation of nanogels was synthesized using free radical emulsion polymerization by varying the monomer composition of NVCL:NMA, and their molecular structure was characterized by 1H-NMR and FTIR. It was found that the nanogels were successfully prepared, and the nanogels exhibited LCST-type phase transition behavior. Cloud point transition temperature (Tc) was studied as a function of copolymer composition, MBA concentration, and pH of the solution by exploring their changes in turbidity using UV–vis spectrophotometer. Our studies reveal that Tc nanogels increased with increasing concentration of NMA, which is due to the hydrophilicity of NMA. Our research also demonstrated that the increase in MBA percentage could decrease the Tc of the synthesized nanogels. Interestingly, P(NVCL-co-NMA) nanogels showed not only a thermoresponsive behavior but also a pH response with increasing Tc in a strong acidic environment owing to the H-bonds within the polymer chains. The results show that nanogels with initial monomer composition of NVCL and NMA of 75% and 25%, respectively, and using 4% of MBA showed Tc around 35°C at pH 7.4. In addition, DLS studies also confirmed this result since the particle sizes became much larger after surpassing the temperature of 35°C. Due to this founding, such nanogels might have potential application in controlled release. Nevertheless, further studies regarding the adjustment of Tc are still needed.
- lower critical solution temperature
- thermoresponsive polymers