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Open AccessArticle

Tuning the Swelling Properties of Smart Multiresponsive Core-Shell Microgels by Copolymerization

Department of Physical and Biophysical Chemistry, Bielefeld University, Universitätstraße 25, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany
Lund Institute of Advanced Neutron and X-ray Science (LINXS), IDEON Building: Delta 5, Scheelevägen 19, 22370 Lund, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Current address: Donostia International Physics Center (DIPC), Paseo Manuel de Lardizabal 4, 20018 San Sebastian, Spain.
Polymers 2019, 11(8), 1269;
Received: 10 July 2019 / Revised: 29 July 2019 / Accepted: 30 July 2019 / Published: 31 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Polymer Networks)
PDF [3273 KB, uploaded 2 August 2019]


The present study focuses on the development of multiresponsive core-shell microgels and the manipulation of their swelling properties by copolymerization of different acrylamides—especially N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAM), N-isopropylmethacrylamide (NIPMAM), and NNPAM—and acrylic acid. We use atomic force microscopy for the dry-state characterization of the microgel particles and photon correlation spectroscopy to investigate the swelling behavior at neutral (pH 7) and acidic (pH 4) conditions. A transition between an interpenetrating network structure for microgels with a pure poly-N,-n-propylacrylamide (PNNPAM) shell and a distinct core-shell morphology for microgels with a pure poly-N-isopropylmethacrylamide (PNIPMAM) shell is observable. The PNIPMAM molfraction of the shell also has an important influence on the particle rigidity because of the decreasing degree of interpenetration. Furthermore, the swelling behavior of the microgels is tunable by adjustment of the pH-value between a single-step volume phase transition and a linear swelling region at temperatures corresponding to the copolymer ratios of the shell. This flexibility makes the multiresponsive copolymer microgels interesting candidates for many applications, e.g., as membrane material with tunable permeability. View Full-Text
Keywords: smart microgels; core-shell microgels; copolymerization; volume phase transition smart microgels; core-shell microgels; copolymerization; volume phase transition

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Brändel, T.; Dirksen, M.; Hellweg, T. Tuning the Swelling Properties of Smart Multiresponsive Core-Shell Microgels by Copolymerization. Polymers 2019, 11, 1269.

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