Colloids and surfaces. B, Biointerfaces

Light-induced spatial control of pH-jump reaction at smart gel interface.

PMID 22019453


We proposed here a 'smart' control of an interface movement of proton diffusion in temperature- and pH-responsive hydrogels using a light-induced spatial pH-jump reaction. A photoinitiated proton-releasing reaction of o-nitrobenzaldehyde (NBA) was integrated into poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-o-2-carboxyisopropylacrylamide) (P(NIPAAm-co-CIPAAm)) hydrogels. NBA-integrated hydrogels demonstrated quick release of proton upon UV irradiation, allowing the pH inside the gel to decrease below the pK(a) of P(NIPAAm-co-CIPAAm) within a minute. The NBA-integrated gel was shown to shrink rapidly upon UV irradiation without polymer "skin layer" formation due to a uniform decrease of pH inside the gel. Spatial control of gel shrinking was also created by irradiating UV light to a limited region of the gel through a photomask. The interface of proton diffusion ("active interface") gradually moved toward non-illuminated area. The apparent position of "active interface", however, did not change remarkably above the LCST, while protons continuously diffused outward direction. This is because the "active interface" also moved inward direction as gel shrank above the LCST. As a result, slow movement of the apparent interface was observed. The NBA-integrated gel was also successfully employed for the controlled release of an entrapped dextran in a light controlled manner. This system is highly promising as smart platforms for triggered and programmed transportation of drugs.

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