Photoresponsive phase separation of a poly(NIPAAm-co-SPO-co-fluorophore) random copolymer in W/O droplet

Saifullah Lone, Jeong In Ahn, Mi Ri Kim, Hyang Moo Lee, Sung Hoon Kim, Timothy P. Lodge, In Woo Cheong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The photoresponsive phase separation of a poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co- spironaphthoxazine methacryloyl-co-allyl-2-(2,6-bis((E)-4-(diphenylamino)styryl) -4H-pyran-4-ylidene)-2-cyanoacetate) random copolymer, i.e., poly(NIPAAm-co-SPO-co-fluorophore), in water-in-oil (W/O) droplets is described. The photoresponsive aqueous droplets were generated in the coflow regime of a simple tubular microfluidic device. The phase separation of the copolymer in the W/O droplets was induced by UV light at 365 nm and was affected significantly by the presence of 2,2-diethoxyacetophenone (DEAP) and sorbitan monooleate (Span 80). When the droplets were subjected to UV irradiation for more than 2 min, the phase-separated copolymer was transferred completely from the aqueous droplet to the continuous phase of hexadecane. The phase separation arises from the photoisomerization shifting the spiro to the merocyanine form of the SPO pendant group in the copolymer, which in turn reduces the hydrophilicity of the copolymer via attractive hydrogen-bonding interactions between the merocyanine group and hydrophobic additives, i.e., Span 80, DEAP, and some stable fragments derived from the photocleavage of DEAP under UV irradiation. These interactions cause the copolymer to associate with the additives and then accelerate the phase separation of the copolymer and subsequent phase transfer of copolymer aggregates. The separate effects of DEAP and Span 80 were also investigated by UV spectrophotometric analysis of the rate coefficient of the reverse transformation (merocyanine to spiro) of the photochromic monomer. We propose a mechanism of phase separation of the copolymer in the W/O droplet based on the NMR and GC-MASS analyses of DEAP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9577-9583
Number of pages7
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 12 2014

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