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Polymers 2016, 8(12), 413; doi:10.3390/polym8120413

Diffusive Motion of Linear Microgel Assemblies in Solution

DWI—Leibniz Institut für Interaktive Materialien e.V., Forckenbeckstr. 50, 52074 Aachen, Germany
Lehrstuhl für Makromolekulare Materialien und Oberflächen, Forckenbeckstr. 50, 52074 Aachen, Germany
Institute of Physical Chemistry, RWTH Aachen University, Landoltweg 2, 52074 Aachen, Germany
Institute of Physics (1A), RWTH Aachen University, 52056 Aachen, Germany
Functional and Interactive Polymers, RWTH Aachen University, Forckenbeckstr. 50, 52074 Aachen, Germany
Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung (IAP), Lehrstuhl für Polymermaterialien und Polymertechnologie, Universität Potsdam, Geiselbergstraße 69, 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Weimin Huang
Received: 13 October 2016 / Revised: 8 November 2016 / Accepted: 21 November 2016 / Published: 29 November 2016
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Due to the ability of microgels to rapidly contract and expand in response to external stimuli, assemblies of interconnected microgels are promising for actuation applications, e.g., as contracting fibers for artificial muscles. Among the properties determining the suitability of microgel assemblies for actuation are mechanical parameters such as bending stiffness and mobility. Here, we study the properties of linear, one-dimensional chains of poly(N-vinylcaprolactam) microgels dispersed in water. They were fabricated by utilizing wrinkled surfaces as templates and UV-cross-linking the microgels. We image the shapes of the chains on surfaces and in solution using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and fluorescence microscopy, respectively. In solution, the chains are observed to execute translational and rotational diffusive motions. Evaluation of the motions yields translational and rotational diffusion coefficients and, from the translational diffusion coefficient, the chain mobility. The microgel chains show no perceptible bending, which yields a lower limit on their bending stiffness. View Full-Text
Keywords: microgels; linear assemblies; in situ fluorescence microscopy; shape analysis; rotational diffusion; translational diffusion; bending stiffness; actuation microgels; linear assemblies; in situ fluorescence microscopy; shape analysis; rotational diffusion; translational diffusion; bending stiffness; actuation

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Schürings, M.-P.; Nevskyi, O.; Eliasch, K.; Michel, A.-K.; Liu, B.; Pich, A.; Böker, A.; von Plessen, G.; Wöll, D. Diffusive Motion of Linear Microgel Assemblies in Solution. Polymers 2016, 8, 413.

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