Scientists have developed a novel polymer, the thermoresponsiveness of which can easily be regulated by changing the type and mixing ratio of ionic species. The researchers used water as the solvent and developed an LCST-type thermoresponsive polymer by adding alkaline earth metal ions — which are divalent cations — to polymers and aqueous solutions.
In LCST-type thermoresponsive polymers, as the temperature increases, the polymer-solvent interaction decreases and the polymer–polymer interaction becomes dominant, leading to precipitation of polymers from the solvent.
The team succeeded in regulating thermoresponsive properties, simply by changing the species and mixing ratio of the ions. This is different from the conventional technique that can only regulate thermoresponsiveness by changing the structure of the polymers.
The researchers expect that the polymer will be applied as an analytical reagent for metal ion-sensing devices and as a material for drug-delivery systems.
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