Thermoresponsive star polymers were synthesized by copolymerization of water-soluble acrylate monomers, di(ethylene glycol) ethyl ether acrylate (DEGA) and 2-hydroxyethyl acrylate (HEA), in a core-first approach using a modified β-cyclodextrin multifunctional initiator and photo-mediated atom transfer radical polymerization (photoATRP). The controlled character of the polymerization, as well as the formation of statistical star copolymers, was demonstrated. The lower critical solution temperature (LCST) is conveniently tuned by varying the ratio of the two hydrophilic monomers. The cyclodextrin core appears to lead to a lowering of the LCST, and introduction of a hydrophobic pocket via star block copolymer synthesis allowed for further tunability of the cloud point temperature. In the final step, we demonstrate that the star polymers made in here can be used as facile carriers and solubilizers for hydrophobic compounds, highlighting their applicability in the biomedical field.
- star polymer
- thermoresponsive polymers