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  • Short oligo(ethylene glycol) chain incorporated thermoresponsive microgels: from structural analysis to modulation of solution properties.

Short oligo(ethylene glycol) chain incorporated thermoresponsive microgels: from structural analysis to modulation of solution properties.

Soft matter (2020-08-07)
Priyanshi Agnihotri, Ritu Raj, Dinesh Kumar, Abhijit Dan
ABSTRACT

Herein, we report synthesis of thermoresponsive poly(N-isopropylaccrylamide) (PNIPAM) microgels with short oligo(ethylene glycol) (OEG) chain comonomers (1 to 4/5 repeating unit) by surfactant-free precipitation copolymerization. The efficient incorporation of the comonomers was confirmed by a complete set of characterization methods viz., FTIR, 1H NMR, TEM, DLS, and viscometry. The structural heterogeneity and the distribution of the comonomers within the microgels were determined by means of 1H high-resolution transverse relaxation magnetization measurements. Interestingly, the incorporation of these short OEG chain comonomers led to the formation of a core-corona structure, in which the comonomers were mainly located in the core of the polymeric network with PNIPAM dangling chains at the microgel periphery. The experimental investigations of deswelling behaviours revealed that the OEG chains allowed precise control over the colloidal properties, including phase transition, particles size, swelling degree and polydispersity of the microgels. The tuneability of these properties that was interpreted in terms of polymeric hydrophobic/hydrophilic balance as well as structural diversity, could be achieved by changing the OEG chain length, comonomer feed and crosslinking density. Further, we found that the microgels with more hydrophilic OEG chains were able to show a higher relative swelling, and the same solid content thus led to a higher viscosity at all temperatures. The OEG chains remarkably improved the colloidal stability of the microgels in electrolyte solutions even at higher temperatures, thereby paving the way for the use of these microgels in a range of applications.

MATERIALS
Product Number
Brand
Product Description

Sigma-Aldrich
Ethylene glycol methyl ether methacrylate, 99%
Sigma-Aldrich
2-N-Morpholinoethyl methacrylate, contains MEHQ as inhibitor, 95%