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Two-Stage Collapse of PNIPAM Brushes: Viscoelastic Changes Revealed by an Interferometric Laser Technique.

ABSTRACT: Many temperature-responsive polymers exhibit a single-phase transition at the lower critical solution temperature (LCST). One exception is poly(N-isopropylacryamide) (PNIPAM). PNIPAM brush layers (51 ± 3 nm thick) that are end-grafted onto glass beads collapse in two stages. The viscoelastic changes of a PNIPAM brush layers were investigated with an interferometric laser method at different temperatures. This method is able to measure the two-stage collapse of beads coated with a polymer brush layer. When these beads are situated close to a hydrophilic glass surface, they exhibit Brownian motion. As this Brownian motion changes with temperature, the collapse of the polymer layer is revealed. The characteristic spectrum of the Brownian motion of beads is modeled by a damped harmonic oscillator, where the polymer layer acts as both spring and damping elements. The change of the Brownian motion spectrum with temperature indicates two transitions of the PNIPAM brush layer, one at 36 °C and one at 46 °C. We attribute the first transition to the LCST volume collapse of PNIPAM. Here, changes of the density and viscosity of the brush dominate. The second transition is dominated by a stiffening of the brush layer.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6943814 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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