Molecular Physics

Structural transition of nanogel star polymers with pH by controlling PEGMA interactions with acid or base copolymers

View publication


We use small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) to characterise a class of star diblock polymers with a nanogel core on which the outer block arms are comprised of random copolymers of temperature sensitive PEGMA with pH sensitive basic (PDMAEMA) and acidic (PMAA) monomers. The acquired SAXS data show that many of the nanogel star polymers undergo a sharp structural transition over a narrow range of pH, but with unexpectedly large shifts in the apparent pKa with respect to that of the acidic or basic monomer unit, the linear polymer form or even an alternate star polymer with a tightly cross-linked core chemistry. We have demonstrated a distinct and quantifiable structural response for the nanogel star copolymers by altering the core or by pairing the monomers PDMAEMA–PEGMA and PMAA–PEGMA to achieve structural transitions that have typically been observed in stars through changes in arm length and number.