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Keywords:

  • thermothickening;
  • sodium alginate;
  • poly(N-isopropylacrylamide);
  • graft copolymers

Abstract

Stimuli-responsive biocompatible and biodegradable materials can be obtained by combining polysaccharides with polymers exhibiting lower critical solution temperature (LCST) phase behavior, such as poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm). The behavior of aqueous solutions of sodium alginate (NaAl) grafted with PNIPAAm (NaAl-g-PNIPAAm) copolymers as a function of composition and temperature is presented. The products obtained exhibit a remarkable thermothickening behavior in aqueous solutions if the degree of grafting, the concentration, and the temperature are higher than some critical values. The sol–gel-phase transition temperatures have been determined. It was found that at temperatures below LCST the systems behave like a solution, whereas at temperatures above LCST, the solutions behave like a stiff gel, because of PNIPAAm segregation. This behavior is reversible and could find applications in tissue engineering and drug delivery systems. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2013