Not-so-Standard Gold: Thermoresponsive Hydrogels Containing Metal Nanostructures
Abstract: Synthetic polymers containing metal nanoparticles have generated interest as a result of potential applications in fields such as catalysis and drug delivery. We have developed methods for in situsynthesis of metal nanostructures within thermoresponsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) hydrogels. These "smart" hydrogels respond to environmental stimuli, including temperature, by undergoing a conversion from the hydrated to dehydrated state. By altering the chemistry of the hydrogel network, the size and morphology of the nanoparticles can be controlled. In some circumstances, the presence of the metal nanoparticles tunes the phase behavior of the nanocomposite material. Parameters such as cross-inking agent and nanoparticle type that influence the thermoresponsive behavior of the composites will be described.