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Langmuir. 2007 May 8;23(10):5761-8. Epub 2007 Apr 5.

Metal nanocrystals incorporated within pH-responsive microgel particles.

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  • 1Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser, Foundation for Research and Technology--Hellas, P.O. Box 1527, 71110 Heraklion Crete, Greece.


Cross-linked sterically stabilized latexes of approximately 250 nm diameter were synthesized by emulsion polymerization of 2-(diethylamino)ethyl methacrylate using a bifunctional oligo(propylene oxide)-based diacrylate cross-linker and a poly(ethylene oxide)-based macromonomer as the stabilizer at pH 9. These particles exhibit reversible swelling properties in water by adjusting the solution pH. At low pH, they exist as swollen microgels as a result of protonation of the tertiary amine units. Deswelling occurs above pH 7 [the effective pK(a) of poly(2-(diethylamino)ethyl methacrylate)], leading to the formation of the original compact latex particles. The swollen microgels can be used as nanoreactors: efficient impregnation with Pt nanoparticles can be achieved by incorporating precursor platinum compounds, followed by metal reduction. Dynamic light scattering was used to compare two methods of Pt nanoparticle impregnation with respect to the size and stability of the final Pt-loaded microgel particles. In the first method, the H2PtCl6 precursor was added to hydrophobic latex particles at high pH, followed by metal reduction. In the second method, H2PtCl6 was added to hydrophilic swollen microgel particles at low pH, and then this metal salt was reduced in situ using NaBH4 and the pH was raised by the addition of base. Both the Pt salt-loaded (metalated) microgels and the final Pt nanoparticle-loaded microgels had well-defined structures that were independent of the synthesis route. Polymer-metal interactions were investigated by UV-visible absorption spectroscopy, which confirmed that the Pt salt was completely reduced to zero-valent Pt. Transmission electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction studies verified the formation of nanometer-sized Pt nanoparticles within these microgels, which can be used as recoverable colloidal catalyst supports for various organic reactions.

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