Effects of Hofmeister Anions on the LCST of PNIPAM as a Function of Molecular Weight.
ABSTRACT: The effect of a series of sodium salts on the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide), PNIPAM, was investigated as a function of molecular weight and polymer concentration with a temperature gradient microfluidic device under a dark-field microscope. In solutions containing sufficient concentrations of kosmotropic anions, the phase transition of PNIPAM was resolved into two separate steps for higher molecular weight samples. The first step of this two step transition was found to be sensitive to the polymer's molecular weight and solution concentration, while the second step was not. Moreover, the binding of chaotropic anions to the polymer was also influenced by molecular weight. Both sets of results could be explained by the formation of intramolecular and intermolecular hydrogen-bonding between polymer chains. By contrast, the hydrophobic hydration of the isopropyl moieties and polymer backbone was found to be unaffected by either the polymer's molecular weight or solution concentration.
Project description:The modulation of the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of two elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) was investigated in the presence of 11 sodium salts that span the Hofmeister series for anions. It was found that the hydrophobic collapse/aggregation of these ELPs generally followed the series. Specifically, kosmotropic anions decreased the LCST by polarizing interfacial water molecules involved in hydrating amide groups on the ELPs. On the other hand, chaotropic anions lowered the LCST through a surface tension effect. Additionally, chaotropic anions showed salting-in properties at low salt concentrations that were related to the saturation binding of anions with the biopolymers. These overall mechanistic effects were similar to those previously found for the hydrophobic collapse and aggregation of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide), PNIPAM. There is, however, a crucial difference between PNIPAM and ELPs. Namely, PNIPAM undergoes a two-step collapse process as a function of temperature in the presence of sufficient concentrations of kosmotropic salts. By contrast, ELPs undergo collapse in a single step in all cases studied herein. This suggests that the removal of water molecules from around the amide moieties triggers the removal of hydrophobic hydration waters in a highly coupled process. There are also some key differences between the LCST behavior of the two ELPs. Specifically, the more hydrophilic ELP V5A2G(3)-120 construct displays collapse/aggregation behavior that is consistent with a higher concentration of anions partitioning to polymer/aqueous interface as compared to the more hydrophobic ELP V(5)-120. It was also found that larger anions could bind with ELP V5A2G(3)-120 more readily in comparison with ELP V(5)-120. These latter results were interpreted in terms of relative binding site accessibility of the anion for the ELP.
Project description:Thermoresponsive polymers, such as poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide) (PNIPAM), have been identified and used as cell culture substrates, taking advantage of the polymer's lower critical solution temperature (LCST) to mechanically harvest cells. This technology bypasses the use of biochemical enzymes that cleave important cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. In this study, the process of electrospinning is used to fabricate and characterize aligned PNIPAM nanofiber scaffolds that are biocompatible and thermoresponsive. Nanofiber scaffolds produced by electrospinning possess a 3D architecture that mimics native extracellular matrix, providing physical and chemical cues to drive cell function and phenotype. We present a factorial design of experiments (DOE) approach to systematically determine the effects of different electrospinning process parameters on PNIPAM nanofiber diameter and alignment. Results show that high molecular weight PNIPAM can be successfully electrospun into both random and uniaxially aligned nanofiber mats with similar fiber diameters by simply altering the speed of the rotating mandrel collector from 10,000 to 33,000 RPM. PNIPAM nanofibers were crosslinked with OpePOSS, which was verified using FTIR. The mechanical properties of the scaffolds were characterized using dynamic mechanical analysis, revealing an order of magnitude difference in storage modulus (MPa) between cured and uncured samples. In summary, cross-linked PNIPAM nanofiber scaffolds were determined to be stable in aqueous culture, biocompatible, and thermoresponsive, enabling their use in diverse cell culture applications.
Project description:Protein-polymer bioconjugate self-assembly has attracted a great deal of attention as a method to fabricate protein nanomaterials in solution and the solid state. To identify protein properties that affect phase behavior in protein-polymer block copolymers, a library of 15 unique protein-b-poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) copolymers comprising 11 different proteins was compiled and analyzed. Many attributes of phase behavior are found to be similar among all studied bioconjugates regardless of protein properties, such as formation of micellar phases at high temperature and low concentration, lamellar ordering with increasing temperature, and disordering at high concentration, but several key protein-dependent trends are also observed. In particular, hexagonal phases are only observed for proteins within the molar mass range 20-36 kDa, where ordering quality is also significantly enhanced. While ordering is generally found to improve with increasing molecular weight outside of this range, most large bioconjugates exhibited weaker than predicted assembly, which is attributed to chain entanglement with increasing polymer molecular weight. Additionally, order-disorder transition boundaries are found to be largely uncorrelated to protein size and quality of ordering. However, the primary finding is that bioconjugate ordering can be accurately predicted using only protein molecular weight and percentage of residues contained within ? sheets. This model provides a basis for designing protein-PNIPAM bioconjugates that exhibit well-defined self-assembly and a modeling framework that can generalize to other bioconjugate chemistries.
Project description:We investigate the phase behaviour of aqueous dispersions of poly-N-isopropyl acrylamide (PNiPAM) microgels above their lower critical solution temperature (LCST) and find that beyond a well-defined concentration the systems exhibit a peculiar behaviour: the microgels assemble into space-spanning gels that shrink in time while maintaining the shape of the container in which they have been formed. Over a wide range of concentrations this shrinking behaviour is independent of PNiPAM concentration, but systematically depends on temperature in a temperature range significantly exceeding the LCST. The overall shrinking characteristics are consistent with those expected for scaffolds made of materials that exhibit thermal contraction. However, for the PNiPAM assemblies contraction is irreversible and can be as large as 90%. Such characteristics disclose complex interactions between fully collapsed PNiPAM and water well beyond the LCST, the origin of which has yet to be elucidated.
Project description:Thermoresponsive materials are generating significant interest on account of the sharp and tunable temperature deswelling transition of the polymer chain. Such materials have shown promise in drug delivery devices, sensing systems, and self-assembly. Incorporation of nanoparticles (NPs), typically through covalent attachment of the polymer chains to the NP surface, can add additional functionality and tunability to such hybrid materials. The versatility of these thermoresponsive polymer/nanoparticle materials has been shown previously; however, significant and important differences exist in the published literature between virtually identical materials. Here we use poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAm)-AuNPs as a model system to understand the aggregation behavior of thermoresponsive polymer-coated nanoparticles in pure water, made by either grafting-to or grafting-from methods. We show that, contrary to popular belief, the aggregation of PNIPAm-coated AuNPs, and likely other such materials, relies on the size and concentration of unbound "free" PNIPAm in solution. It is this unbound polymer that also leads to an increase in solution turbidity, a characteristic that is typically used to prove nanoparticle aggregation. The size of PNIPAm used to coat the AuNPs, as well as the concentration of the resultant polymer-AuNP composites, is shown to have little effect on aggregation. Without free PNIPAm, contraction of the polymer corona in response to increasing temperature is observed, instead of nanoparticle aggregation, and is accompanied by no change in solution turbidity or color. We develop an alternative method for removing all traces of excess free polymer and develop an approach for analyzing the aggregation behavior of such materials, which truly allows for heat-triggered aggregation to be studied.
Project description:Ion specific effects are ubiquitous in solutions and govern a large number of colloidal phenomena. To date, a substantial and sustained effort has been directed at understanding the underlying molecular interactions. As a new approach, we address this issue by sensitive <sup>1</sup>H NMR methods that measure the electrophoretic mobility and the self-diffusion coefficient of poly(<i>N</i>-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) chains in bulk aqueous solution in the presence of salts with the anion component varied from kosmotropes to chaotropes along the Hofmeister series. The accuracy of the applied electrophoretic NMR experiments is exceptionally high, on the order of 10<sup>-10</sup> m<sup>2</sup>/(V s), corresponding to roughly 10<sup>-4</sup> elementary charges per monomer effectively associated with the neutral polymer. We find that chaotropic anions associate to PNIPAM with an apparent Langmuir-type saturation behavior. The polymer chains remain extended upon ion association, and momentum transfer from anion to polymer is only partial which indicates weak attractive short-range forces between anion and polymer and, thereby and in contrast to some other ion-polymer systems, the lack of well-defined binding sites.
Project description:A SiO? microsphere imprinted by phosphate ions was prepared with the use of phosphate ion as the template molecule and tetraethoxysilane as the precursor. Thereafter, the imprinted SiO? microspheres were modified with 3-(trimethoxysilyl)propyl methacrylate (TMSPMA@SiO?), followed by introducing the double bond. In the presence of TMSPMA@SiO?, using <i>N</i>-isopropylacrylamide as monomer, and potassium persulfate as initiator, polymer/inorganic hybrid particles (PNIPAM/SiO?) were prepared. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, nitrogen adsorption-desorption test, and transmission electron microscope were employed for the characterization of molecular imprinted SiO? microspheres and PNIPAM/SiO? hybrid particles. The effects of phosphate concentration, pH value, and adsorption temperature on the phosphate binding properties of PNIPAM/SiO? hybrid particles were studied by UV-vis spectrophotometer. The experimental results shed light on the fact that the PNIPAM structure is beneficial for the improvement of the adsorption ability of phosphate-imprinted SiO? microspheres. With the increase in the initial phosphate concentration, the adsorption capacity of hybrid particles to phosphate ions increased to 274 mg/g at pH = 7 and 15 °C. The acid condition and the temperature below the low critical solution temperature (LCST) of PNIPAM are favorable to the adsorption of phosphate ions by PNIPAM/SiO? hybrid particles, and the maximum adsorption capacity can reach 287 mg/g (at pH = 5 and 15 °C). The phosphate imprinted polymer/inorganic hybrid material is expected to be put to use in the fields of phosphate ions adsorption, separation, and recovery.
Project description:By means of atomistic molecular dynamics simulations we investigate the behaviour of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide), PNIPAM, in water at temperatures below and above the lower critical solution temperature (LCST), including the undercooled regime. The transition between water soluble and insoluble states at the LCST is described as a cooperative process involving an intramolecular coil-to-globule transition preceding the aggregation of chains and the polymer precipitation. In this work we investigate the molecular origin of such cooperativity and the evolution of the hydration pattern in the undercooled polymer solution. The solution behaviour of an atactic 30-mer at high dilution is studied in the temperature interval from 243 to 323 K with a favourable comparison to available experimental data. In the water soluble states of PNIPAM we detect a correlation between polymer segmental dynamics and diffusion motion of bound water, occurring with the same activation energy. Simulation results show that below the coil-to-globule transition temperature PNIPAM is surrounded by a network of hydrogen bonded water molecules and that the cooperativity arises from the structuring of water clusters in proximity to hydrophobic groups. Differently, the perturbation of the hydrogen bond pattern involving water and amide groups occurs above the transition temperature. Altogether these findings reveal that even above the LCST PNIPAM remains largely hydrated and that the coil-to-globule transition is related with a significant rearrangement of the solvent in the proximity of the surface of the polymer. The comparison between the hydrogen bonding of water in the surrounding of PNIPAM isopropyl groups and in the bulk displays a decreased structuring of solvent at the hydrophobic polymer-water interface across the transition temperature, as expected because of the topological extension along the chain of such interface. No evidence of an upper critical solution temperature behaviour, postulated in theoretical and thermodynamics studies of PNIPAM aqueous solution, is observed in the low temperature domain.
Project description:The swelling properties and thermal transition of hydrogels can be tailored by changing the hydrophilic-hydrophobic balance of polymer networks. Especially, poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAm) has received attention as thermo-responsive hydrogels for tissue engineering because its hydrophobicity and swelling property are transited around body temperature (32 °C). In this study, we investigated the potential of poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) as a hydrophilic co-monomer and crosslinker of PNIPAm to enhance biological properties of PNIPAm hydrogels. The swelling ratios, lower critical solution temperature (LCST), and internal pore structure of the synthesized p(NIPAm-co-PEGDA) hydrogels could be varied with changes in the molecular weight of PEGDA and the co-monomer ratios (NIPAm to PEGDA). We found that increasing the molecular weight of PEGDA showed an increase of pore sizes and swelling ratios of the hydrogels. In contrast, increasing the weight ratio of PEGDA under the same molecular weight condition increased the crosslinking density and decreased the swelling ratios of the hydrogels. Further, to evaluate the potential of these hydrogels as cell sheets, we seeded bovine chondrocytes on the p(NIPAm-co-PEGDA) hydrogels and observed the proliferation of the seed cells and their detachment as a cell sheet upon a decrease in temperature. Based on our results, we confirmed that p(NIPAm-co-PEGDA) hydrogels could be utilized as cell sheets with enhanced cell proliferation performance.
Project description:A new synthetic approach is presented for the preparation of Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-block-styrene) PNIPAM-<i>b</i>-PS via an Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization (ATRP) technique. The proposed method is based on application of 2-chloro-N-(2-hydroxyethyl)propanamide (NCPAE) as a bifunctional initiator, which enables ATRP of two monomers, differing in activity and polarity, into two stages. The synthesized copolymer molecules contain two well-defined polymer chains connected by a linker, which is a derivative of the proposed initiator. Using NCPAE led to PNIPAMs with well-planned molecular weight, low polydispersities (PDI=1.1÷1.3) and hydroxyl functionality. Activation of such blocks for initiation of styrene polymerization was performed using ?-bromoisobutyryl bromide. After such a modification, the synthesized homopolymers acted as macroinitiators in ARGET ATRP and a well-defined polystyrene block, as the next one in the polymer chain was successfully formed. Both of the synthesized macromolecules, PNIPAM and PNIPAM-<i>b</i>-PS, exhibit a thermoresponsive behavior with explicit lower critical solution temperatures (LCST) in their aqueous solutions. The synthesized homopolymers and subsequently derived block copolymers were characterized using Size-Exclusion Chromatography, Differential Scanning Calorimetry, Dynamic Light Scattering, and NMR spectroscopy.