Get the full paper here: Macromol. Rapid. Comm. 37, 1521 (2016).
This study reports a simple and versatile synthesis route for the preparation of highly uniform and densely functionalized aqueous microgels by modification of latex particles composed of an active ester monomer (pentafluorophenyl acrylate; PFPA). The hydrophobic nature of the PFPA allows synthesizing very uniform latex particles via emulsion polymerization, whose size can be controlled by the surfactant concentration, while the degree of crosslinking is a function of the added crosslinker. The high reactivity of the PFPA groups toward nucleophilic substitution delivers a platform method to synthesize functional microgels by reaction with functional amines. This study demonstrates this process for the dense functionalization of the entire particle with an amine carrying a pH-responsive unit. This study further describes the influence of the crosslinking degree on the ability for swelling of the resulting microgels in aqueous dispersion.