Controlling the softness of IPN microgels: the role of PAAc/PNIPAM ratio.
The typical swelling behaviour of PNIPAM-based responsive microgels provides good tunability of both softness and volume fraction with temperature, making these systems of great interest for technological applications and theoretical implications. Their intriguing phase diagram can be even more complex if poly(acrylic acid) is interpenetrated within the PNIPAM network: Interpenetrated Polymer Network (IPN) microgels exhibit an additional pH-sensitivity which allow to control the delicate balance between polymer/polymer and polymer/solvent interactions. However the way to modulate this mutual interference is still elusive and the effect of the PAAc/PNIPAM polymeric ratio on both swelling capability and dynamics is almost unknown. We have investigated their behaviour across the volume phase transition through Dynamic light scattering, electrophoretic measurements and transmission electron microscopy providing new details on the role played by the charge density related to the fraction of exposed AAc chains. Our results highlight how the swelling capability and the softness of the IPN microgels can be experimentally controlled by changing the amount of the acrylic acid chains interpenetrated within the PNIPAM network.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1707.08542
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