Dual-Responsive Capsules with Tunable Low Critical Solution Temperatures and Their Loading and Release Behavior

Dual-responsive capsules sensitive to pH and temperature changes were successfully prepared by grafting random copolymer brushes of 2-(2-methoxyethoxy)­ethyl methacrylate (MEO2MA) and oligo­(ethylene glycol) methacrylate (OEGMA) from polydopamine (Pdop)-coated SiO2 via a surface-initiated atom-transfer radical polymerization (SI-ATRP) method with subsequent removal of the SiO2 core. The uptake and release properties of the resulting capsules are highly affected by changes in the pH values and temperature of the solution. The capsules can take up cationic dye rhodamine 6G (Rh6G) at high pH and T < LCST but not at low pH and T > LCST. In contrast, the capsules can release Rh6G at pH < 7 and temperature below the LCST, but release is less efficient under the opposite conditions. This dual-responsive property was also observed for the anionic dye methyl orange.