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Issue 44, 2016
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Swelling, structure, and phase stability of compressible microgels

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Abstract

Microgels are soft colloidal particles that, when dispersed in a solvent, swell and deswell in response to changes in environmental conditions, such as temperature, concentration, and pH. Using Monte Carlo simulation, we model bulk suspensions of microgels that interact via Hertzian elastic interparticle forces and can expand or contract via trial moves that allow particles to change size in accordance with the Flory–Rehner free energy of cross-linked polymer gels. We monitor the influence of particle compressibility, size fluctuations, and concentration on bulk structural and thermal properties by computing particle swelling ratios, radial distribution functions, static structure factors, osmotic pressures, and freezing densities. For microgels in the nanoscale size range, particle compressibility and associated size fluctuations suppress crystallization, shifting the freezing transition to a higher density than for the hard-sphere fluid. As densities increase beyond close packing, microgels progressively deswell, while their intrinsic size distribution grows increasingly polydisperse.

Graphical abstract: Swelling, structure, and phase stability of compressible microgels

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Publication details

The article was received on 08 Sep 2016, accepted on 17 Oct 2016 and first published on 17 Oct 2016


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C6SM02056A
Citation: Soft Matter, 2016,12, 9086-9094
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
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    Swelling, structure, and phase stability of compressible microgels

    M. Urich and A. R. Denton, Soft Matter, 2016, 12, 9086
    DOI: 10.1039/C6SM02056A

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