Controlling the morphology of microgels by ionic stimuli

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  • Maxime J. Bergman, Lunds Universitet
  • ,
  • Jan S. Pedersen
  • Peter Schurtenberger, Lunds Universitet
  • ,
  • Niels Boon, Lunds Universitet

Stimuli-responsive microgels have attracted much interest for their use as vehicles for drug delivery or as the building blocks of adaptive materials. Ionic microgel particles, including popular poly(NIPAM-co-acrylic acid), show strong mechanical responsiveness to many external stimuli, including changes in ionic strength or acidity. In this work, we demonstrate that combining multiple ionic stimuli can enable detailed control over the morphology of microgels. To this extent, we analyze the particle morphology in various surroundings with light-scattering techniques. First, we find strong indications of an inverted density profile in the core of the particles. Secondly, we show that the swelling of this hydrogel core and the corona of dangling polymer ends can be targeted separately by a combination of deionization and deprotonation steps. Hence, this work represents an advance in tailoring particle morphologies after synthesis in a predictable fashion.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSoft Matter
Pages (from-to)2786-2794
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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