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Single Micrometer-Sized Gels: Unique Mechanics and Characters for Applications

1
Department of Applied Physics, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Naka-cho 2-24-16, Koganei, Tokyo 184-8588, Japan
2
Department of Biosciences and Informatics, Faculty of Science and Technology, Keio University, 3-14-1 Hiyoshi, Yokohama 223-8522, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 February 2018 / Revised: 20 March 2018 / Accepted: 26 March 2018 / Published: 28 March 2018
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Abstract

Microgels—small gels of submicron to micron size—are widely used in food, cosmetics and biomedical applications because of their biocompatibility and/or fast response to external environments. However, the properties of “single” microgels have not been characterized due to limitations in preparation technologies and measurement methods for single microgels with sizes in the multi-micrometer range. The synthesis of multiple shapes of single microgels and their characterization are important for further functionalization and application of gel-based materials. In this review, we explain the recent advancements in microgel fabrication and characterization methods for single microgels. The first topic discussed includes the self-assembly methods for single microgel fabrication using physical phenomena such as phase separation, interfacial wetting and buckling instability. The second topic deals with methods for analyzing the mechanics of single microgels and the differences between their mechanical characteristics and those of bulk gels. The recent progress in the fabrication and characterization of single microgels will bring important insights to the design and functionalization of gel-based materials. View Full-Text
Keywords: janus particle; anisotropic shape; phase separation; wetting; micrometric confinement; micropipette aspiration janus particle; anisotropic shape; phase separation; wetting; micrometric confinement; micropipette aspiration
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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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Yanagisawa, M.; Watanabe, C.; Fujiwara, K. Single Micrometer-Sized Gels: Unique Mechanics and Characters for Applications. Gels 2018, 4, 29.

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