The temperature and pH-dependent diffusion of poly(glycerol monomethacrylate)-block-poly(2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate) nanoparticles prepared via polymerization-induced self-assembly in water is characterized using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS). Lowering the solution temperature or raising the solution pH induces a worm-to-sphere transition and hence an increase in diffusion coefficient by a factor of between four and eight. FCS enables morphological transitions to be monitored at relatively high copolymer concentrations (10% w/w) compared to those required for dynamic light scattering (0.1% w/w). This is important because such transitions are reversible at the former concentration, whereas they are irreversible at the latter. Furthermore, the FCS data suggest that the thermal transition takes place over a very narrow temperature range (less than 2 °C). These results demonstrate the application of FCS to characterize order-order transitions, as opposed to order-disorder transitions.
- Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy
- Polymerization-induced self-assembly
- RAFT polymerization