Journal of Materials Science, Vol.54, No.10, 7503-7516, 2019
Synthesis and characterization of PNIPAM microgel core-silica shell particles
We developed a simple effective approach to prepare poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-acrylamide-co-N,N-methylenebisacrylamide) (PNIPAM/AM/MBA) microgel core-silica shell particles with narrow particle size distribution via the sol-gel reaction of silica precursor deposited directly on the microgel particle surface in the presence of 3-glycidyloxypropyltrimethoxysilane (GLYMO). MBA was used as the cross-linking agent for the formation of microgel with the cross-linked network structure and GLYMO used as a coupling agent. The morphology of hybrid core-shell particles including the shape, core size, shell thickness and surface roughness was governed by the key components of AM and GLYMO. PNIPAM/AM/MBA microgel core-silica shell particles show desirable spherical shape, distinct core-shell structure and raspberry-like particle morphology. In contrast, PNIPAM/MBA microgel core-silica shell particles formed without resort to AM and GLYMO result in very poor silica encapsulation, thereby leading to undesired particle morphology. Incorporation of AM units into PNIPAM/MBA microgel particles increases the lower critical solution temperature (LCST). Furthermore, encapsulation of PNIPAM/AM/MBA microgel particles by silica does not affect the LCST to an appreciable extent, but it greatly reduces the thermo-sensitivity of the hybrid core-shell particles. Finally, the feasibility of using these PNIPAM-based core-silica shell particles as drug carriers was demonstrated.