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Equilibrium and kinetic aspects of the uptake of poly(ethylene oxide) by copolymer microgel particles of N-isopropylacrylamide and acrylic acid.


The use of microgels for controlled uptake and release has been an area of active research for many years. In this work copolymer microgels of N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAM) and acrylic acid (AAc), containing different concentrations of AAc and also cross-linking monomer, have been prepared and characterized. These microgels are responsive to pH and temperature. As well as monitoring the equilibrium response to changes in these variables, the rates of swelling/de-swelling of the microgel particles, on changing either the pH or the temperature, have also been investigated. It is shown that the rate of de-swelling of the microgel particles containing AAc is much faster than the rate of swelling, on changing the pH appropriately. This is explained in terms of the relative mobilities of the H(+) and Na(+) ions, in and out of the particles. It was observed that the microgels containing AAc, at pH 8, de-swelled relatively slowly on heating to 50 degrees C from 20 degrees C. This is attributed to the resistance to collapse associated with the large increase in counterion concentration inside the microgel particles. The swelling and de-swelling properties of these copolymer microgels have also been investigated in aqueous poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) solutions, of different MW (2000-300 000). The corresponding absorbed amounts of PEO from solution onto the microgels have also been determined using a depletion method. The results, as a function of AAc content, cross-linker concentration, PEO MW, pH, and temperature, have been rationalized in terms of the ease and depth of penetration of the PEO chains into the various microgel particles and also the H-bonding associations between PEO and either the -COOH of the AAc moeities and/or the H of the amide groups (much weaker). Finally, the adsorption and desorption of the PEO molecules in to and out of the microgel particles have been shown to be extremely slow compared to normal diffusion time scales for polymer adsorption onto rigid surfaces.


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    School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, Cantock's Close, Bristol, BS8 1TS, UK.



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    Journal Article



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