Exploring the colloid-to-polymer transition for ultra-low crosslinked microgels from three to two dimensions
Schulte, Marie F.
Gelissen, Arjan P. H.
Potemkin, Igor I.
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Microgels are solvent-swollen nano- and microparticles that show prevalent colloidal-like behavior despite their polymeric nature. Here we study ultra-low crosslinked poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) microgels (ULC), which can behave like colloids or flexible polymers depending on dimensionality, compression or other external stimuli. Small-angle neutron scattering shows that the structure of the ULC microgels in bulk aqueous solution is characterized by a density profile that decays smoothly from the center to a fuzzy surface. Their phase behavior and rheological properties are those of soft colloids. However, when these microgels are confined at an oil-water interface, their behavior resembles that of flexible macromolecules. Once monolayers of ultra-low crosslinked microgels are compressed, deposited on solid substrate and studied with atomic-force microscopy, a concentration-dependent topography is observed. Depending on the compression, these microgels can behave as flexible polymers, covering the substrate with a uniform film, or as colloidal microgels leading to a monolayer of particles Show more
Journal / seriesNature Communications
Pages / Article No.
PublisherNature Publishing Group
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