Tailoring the LCST of Thermosensitive Hydrogel Thin Films Deposited by iCVD

Abdon Pena-Francesch

Assistant Professor


Arriving January 2021



Abdon Pena-Francesch, Laura Montero, and Salvador Borros (2014)

LANGMUIR, 30(24):7162-7167.

Using the iCVD (initiated chemical vapor deposition) polymerization technique, we generated a library of thermosensitive thin film hydrogels in the physiological temperature range. The library shows how a specific hydrogel with a desired temperature response can be synthesized via the copolymerization of three main components: (a) the main thermosensitive monomer, which determines the temperature range of the LCST; (b) the comonomer, which modulates the temperature according to its hydrophilic/hydrophobic behavior; and (c) the cross-linker, which determines the swelling degree and the polymer chain mobility of the resulting hydrogel. The thermosensitive thin films included in the library have been characterized by the water contact angle (WCA), revealing a switchable hydrophobic/hydrophilic behavior depending on the temperature and a decrease in the WCA with the incorporation of hydrophilic moieties. Moreover, a more accurate characterization by quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) is performed. With temperature and flow control, the switchable swelling properties of the thermosensitive thin films (due to the polymer mixture transition) can be recorded and analyzed in order to study the effects of the comonomer moieties on the lower critical solution temperature (LCST). Thus, the LCST tailoring method has been successfully used in this paper, and thermoresponsive thin films (50 nm in thickness) have been deposited by iCVD, exhibiting LCSTs in the 32-49 degrees C range. Due to the presented method's ability to tailor the LCST in the physiological temperature range, the developed thermoresponsive films present potential biosensing and drug delivery applications in the biomedical field.

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