Macromolecular Engineering of Thermoresponsive Metal-Phenolic Networks

Chan Jin Kim, Francesca Ercole, Jingqu Chen, Shuaijun Pan, Yi Ju, John F. Quinn, Frank Caruso

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Dynamic nanostructured materials that can react to physical and chemical stimuli have attracted interest in the biomedical and materials science fields. Metal-phenolic networks (MPNs) represent a modular class of such materials: these networks form via coordination of phenolic molecules with metal ions and can be used for surface and particle engineering. To broaden the range of accessible MPN properties, we report the fabrication of thermoresponsive MPN capsules using FeIII ions and the thermoresponsive phenolic building block biscatechol-functionalized poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (biscatechol-PNIPAM). The MPN capsules exhibited reversible changes in capsule size and shell thickness in response to temperature changes. The temperature-induced capsule size changes were influenced by the chain length of biscatechol-PNIPAM and catechol-to-FeIII ion molar ratio. The metal ion type also influenced the capsule size changes, allowing tuning of the MPN capsule mechanical properties. AlIII-based capsules, having a lower stiffness value (10.7 mN m-1), showed a larger temperature-induced size contraction (∼63%) than TbIII-based capsules, which exhibit a higher stiffness value (52.6 mN m-1) and minimal size reduction (<1%). The permeability of the MPN capsules was controlled by changing the temperature (25-50 °C)-a reduced permeability was obtained as the temperature was increased above the lower critical solution temperature of biscatechol-PNIPAM. This temperature-dependent permeability behavior was exploited to encapsulate and release model cargo (500 kDa fluorescein isothiocyanate-tagged dextran) from the capsules; approximately 70% was released over 90 min at 25 °C. This approach provides a synthetic strategy for developing dynamic and thermoresponsive-tunable MPN systems for potential applications in biological science and biotechnology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-514
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2022

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