Log Poct/SA Predicts the Thermoresponsive Behavior of P(DMA-co-RA) Statistical Copolymers

Irem Akar, Jeff Foster, Xiyue Leng, Amanda K. Pearce, Robert T. Mathers, Rachel O'Reilly

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Polymers that exhibit a lower critical solution temperature (LCST) have been of great interest for various biological applications such as drug or gene delivery, controlled release systems, and biosensing. Tuning the LCST behavior through control over polymer composition (e.g., upon copolymerization of monomers with different hydrophobicity) is a widely used method, as the phase transition is greatly affected by the hydrophilic/hydrophobic balance of the copolymers. However, the lack of a general method that relates copolymer hydrophobicity to their temperature response leads to exhaustive experiments when seeking to obtain polymers with desired properties. This is particularly challenging when the target copolymers are comprised of monomers that individually form nonresponsive homopolymers, that is, only when copolymerized do they display thermoresponsive behavior. In this study, we sought to develop a predictive relationship between polymer hydrophobicity and cloud point temperature (TCP). A series of statistical copolymers were synthesized based on hydrophilic N,N-dimethyl acrylamide (DMA) and hydrophobic alkyl acrylate monomers, and their hydrophobicity was compared using surface area-normalized octanol/water partition coefficients (Log Poct/SA). Interestingly, a correlation between the Log Poct/SA of the copolymers and their TCPs was observed for the P(DMA-co-RA) copolymers, which allowed TCP prediction of a demonstrative copolymer P(DMA-co-MMA). These results highlight the strong potential of this computational tool to improve the rational design of copolymers with desired temperature responses prior to synthesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498–503
Number of pages6
JournalACS Macro Letters
Early online date22 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the Turkish Ministry of National Education, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, EPSRC, (EP/S00338X/1), and the University of Birmingham.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society.


  • Thermoresponsive copolymers
  • alkyl acrylates
  • Log Poct/SA
  • hydrophobicity


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