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Effects of temperature and pH on the contraction and aggregation of microgels in aqueous suspensions.


Chemically cross-linked poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) microgels and PNIPAM with different amounts of acrylic acid groups (PNIPAM-co-PAA) were synthesized and the temperature-induced aggregation behaviors of aqueous suspensions of these microgels were investigated mainly with the aid of dynamic light scattering (DLS) and turbidimetry. The DLS results show that the particles at all conditions shrink at temperatures up to approximately the lower critical solution temperature (LCST), but the relative contraction effect is larger for the microgels without acid groups or for microgels with added anionic surfactant (SDS). A significant depression of the cloud point is found in suspensions of PNIPAM with very low concentrations of SDS. The compression of the microgels cannot be traced from the turbidity results, but rather the values of the turbidity increase in this temperature interval. This phenomenon is discussed in the framework of a theoretical model. At temperatures above LCST, the size of the microgels without attached charged groups in a very dilute suspension is unaffected by temperature, while the charged particles (pH 7 and 11) continue to collapse with increasing temperature over the entire domain. In this temperature range, low-charged particles of higher concentration and particles containing acrylic acid groups at low pH (pH 2) aggregate, and macroscopic phase separation is approached at higher temperatures. This study demonstrates how the stabilization of microgels can be affected by factors such as polymer concentration, addition of ionic surfactant to particles without charged acid groups, amount of charged groups in the polymer, and pH.


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    Department of Chemistry, University of Oslo, Blindern, N-0315 Oslo, Norway.

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    The journal of physical chemistry. B 113:32 2009 Aug 13 pg 11115-23


    Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
    Nephelometry and Turbidimetry
    Scattering, Radiation
    Surface-Active Agents

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't



    PubMed ID