Solution and Adsorption Characterization of Novel Water-Soluble Ionic Block Copolymers for Stabilization of Magnetite Nanoparticles


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Virginia Tech


There is a need for multifunctional polymer-particle complexes for use in biomedical applications such as for drug delivery or as MRI contrast agents where composition and stability are essential for the complexes to function. This work outlines a general methodology for rationally designing complexes stabilized with polymer brush layers using adapted star polymer models for brush extension and pair potential. Block copolymer micelles were first utilized for experimental validation by using the brush extension model to predict the size and the interaction model to predict the second virial coefficient, A2. Subsequently, the models were used to predict the size and colloidal stability of magnetite-polymer complexes using the modified Deryaguin-Verwey-Landau-Overbeek theory.

Novel hydrophilic triblock copolymers comprised of poly(ethylene oxide) tailblocks and a carboxylic acid containing polyurethane center block were examined by static and dynamic light scattering (SLS and DLS), small angle neutron scattering (SANS), and densiometry. Under conditions when the charge is suppressed such as at low pH and/or high ionic strength, the polymer chains self-assemble into micelles, whereas unimers alone are present under conditions where charge effects are important, such as high pH and low ionic strength.

A model for effective interaction between star polymers was used to obtain an expression for the second virial coefficient (A2) for micelles in solution. The values of A2 obtained using this method were compared with experimentally determined values for star polymers and micelles. In doing so, not only was a new means of calculating A2 a priori introduced, but the applicability of star polymer expressions to micellar systems was established. Through the analogy of micelles to sterically stabilized nanoparticles, this model was applied to water-soluble block copolymers adsorbed on magnetite nanoparticles for the purpose of tailoring a steric stabilizing brush layer. The sizes of the magnetite-polymer complexes were predicted using the star polymer model employed for the micelle study with an added layer to account for the anchor block. Colloidal stability was predicted from extended DLVO theory using the pair interaction. This work will lead to a better understanding of how to design ion-containing block copolymers for steric stabilization of metal oxide nanoparticles.



core, corona, poly(ethylene oxide), nanoparticle, self-assembly, segment density profile, charged micelle, triblock copolymer, drug delivery, magnetite, steric stabilization, brush extension, adsorption, contrast agent