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Diffusive motion of linear microgel assemblies in solution

: Schürings, M.P.; Nevskyi, O.; Eliasch, K.; Michel, A.K.; Liu, B.; Pich, A.; Böker, A.; Plessen, G. von; Wöll, D.

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Polymers. Online resource 8 (2016), No.12, 14 pp.
ISSN: 2073-4360
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IAP ()

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 cha in mobility. The microgel chains show no perceptible bending, which yields a lower limit on their bending stiffness.