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Swelling of micro-hydrogels with a crosslinker gradient.


ABSTRACT: A heterogeneous distribution of crosslinker in micro-hydrogels (microgels) results in a non-uniform polymer density inside the particles. Identifying the morphology of the hydrogel backbone enables a bottom-up approach towards the structural and rheological properties of microgel systems. On a local level we use a Flory-Rehner inspired model that focuses on highly swollen networks, characterized by a Poisson's ratio of 1/4. Our ab initio calculations take account for the nonuniform distribution of crosslinker species during the synthesis of poly(N-isopropylacylamide) (PNIPAM) microgels, yet the method is also applicable to other microgel architectures. We recover a single-particle density profile that is in close agreement with SAXS data. Comparison with experimental data confirms that the surface of the cross-linked particle is decorated with dangling polymers ends of considerable size.

SUBMITTER: Boon N 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5778843 | BioStudies | 2017-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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