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pH-Responsive Reversibly Swellable Nanotube Arrays

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journal contribution
posted on 15.12.2009, 00:00 by Khek-Khiang Chia, Michael F. Rubner, Robert E. Cohen
We demonstrate a technique for synthesizing substrate-bound arrays of submicrometer-sized reversibly swellable tubes by using porous templates. The sacrificial template approach allows straightforward control over the tube length, diameter, and lateral arrangement of the resultant surface-bound nanotubes. We also explored methods for varying the tube opening structure by altering the pore shape at the surface of the template. A specific PEM system composed of poly(allylamine hydrochloride) and poly(acrylic acid) was chosen as the building block for the nanotube arrays because of its ability to undergo pH-triggered swelling−deswelling transitions. The activation of this transition results in dramatic changes in the length and diameter of the nanotubes as characterized in situ via confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). The pH-driven reversible swelling−deswelling and nanoporosity behavior observed with planar films and nanotubes of this PEM system is a direct consequence of the breaking and reforming of ionic cross-links.