Microgel size modulation by electrochemical switching
In this work we present the first e-microgel, whose size can be adjusted by application of an electrochemical potential, as seen by dynamic light scattering (3D-DLS in dependence of equilibrium potential) and scanning force microscopy (SFM). Hereby, polyelectrolyte microgels with attracted electroactive counterions provide an effective platform for the manipulation of the microgel size by electrochemical means. The reversible switching of guest molecules, namely, hexacyanoferrates, between oxidized ferricyanide [Fe(CN)6]3- and reduced ferrocyanide [Fe(CN)6]4-, influences the cationic host microgel, poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-methacrylamidopropyltrimethylammonium chloride) P(NIPAM-co-MAPTAC), and hence the swelling properties of the microgel. The combination of thermo- and redox-responsiveness in one particle leads to a novel type of multistimuli responsive material. In addition, the use of hydrodynamic voltammetry detects directly the preferred uptake of ferricyanide and enables the determination of the nominal charge ratio (ncr) between microgel and entrapped counterions at different states of switching. Further, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy allows a more detailed mechanistic insight into the microgel modulation.