Polyelectrolyte multilayers of diblock copolymer micelles with temperature-responsive cores. Academic Article uri icon


  • We report on assembly and stimuli-response behavior of layer-by-layer (LbL) films of pH- and temperature-responsive cationic diblock copolymer micelles (BCMs) of poly(2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate)-block-poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PDMA-b-PNIPAM) and a linear polyanion polystyrene sulfonate (PSS). As a function of solution pH at temperatures above lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of PNIPAM, PDMA-b-PNIPAM micelles have been demonstrated earlier to exhibit an abrupt change in micellar aggregation number and hydrodynamic size between larger and smaller BCMs (LBCMs and SBCMs, respectively). Here, LBCMs or SBCMs were included within LbL films through self-assembly with a polyanion, and film pH and temperature responses were studied using ellipsometry and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Both types of micelle preserved their micellar morphology when adsorbed at the surface of oxidized silicon wafers coated with PSS-terminated precursor layer at a constant pH. Response of adsorbed BCMs to temperature and pH variations was strongly dependent on whether or not BCMs were coated with the PSS layer. While monolayers of LBCMs lost their original dry morphology in response to pH or temperature variations, depositing a PSS layer atop LBCMs inhibited such irreversible restructuring. As a result of wrapping around and strong binding of PSS chains with LBCM micelles, BCM/PSS assemblies preserved their original dry state morphology despite the application of pH and temperature triggers. However, the wet-state film response to pH and temperature stimuli was drastically different. Swelling of BCM/PSS multilayers was strongly affected by temperature but was almost independent of pH due to neutralization of BCM PDMA's coronal charge with PSS. Cycling the temperature below and above PNIPAM's LCST caused PNIPAM chains within BCM cores to swell or collapse, resulting in reversible swelling transitions in the entire BCM/PSS assemblies. Temperature-controlled switching between the hydrophobic and hydrophilic state of assembled micellar cores was also used to regulate the release of a micelle-loaded hydrophobic pyrene dye, whose release rate increased at temperatures below PNIPAM's LCST.

published proceedings

  • Langmuir

author list (cited authors)

  • Xu, L. i., Zhu, Z., & Sukhishvili, S. A

citation count

  • 67

complete list of authors

  • Xu, Li||Zhu, Zhichen||Sukhishvili, Svetlana A

publication date

  • January 2011