Single UV or near IR triggering event leads to polymer degradation into small molecules

Caroline De Gracia Lux, Cathryn L. McFearin, Shivanjali Joshi-Barr, Jagadis Sankaranarayanan, Nadezda Fomina, Adah Almutairi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


We report two polymers with UV-and NIRremovable end-caps that respond to a single light activated event by complete cleavage of the polymer backbone via a selfimmolative mechanism. Two photocleavable protecting groups were used to cap the polymers; o-nitrobenzyl alcohol (ONB) and bromo-coumarin (Bhc). GPC and 1H NMR confirmed complete degradation of the ONB-containing polymer in response to UV. The polymers were formulated into nanoparticles; fluorescence measurements of encapsulated Nile red confirmed release upon photolysis of the end-caps. Contrary to previous work using a similar backbone structure that degrades upon hydrolysis, here, the disassembly process and burst release of the payload are only activated on demand, illustrating the powerful capacity of light to trigger release from polymeric nanoparticles. Our design allows the signal to be amplified in a domino effect to fully degrade the polymer into small molecules. Thus, polymers and nanoparticles can reach maximal degradation without having to use intense or long periods of irradiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)922-926
Number of pages5
JournalACS Macro Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 17 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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