Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 46, 2017
Previous Article Next Article

Structuring polymer gels via catalytic reactions

Author affiliations


We use computer simulations to investigate how a catalytic reaction in a polymer sol can induce the formation of a polymer gel. To this aim we consider a solution of homopolymers in which freely-diffusing catalysts convert the originally repulsive A monomers into attractive B ones. We find that at low temperatures this reaction transforms the polymer solution into a physical gel that has a remarkably regular mesostructure in the form of a cluster phase, absent in the usual homopolymer gels obtained by a quench in temperature. We investigate how this microstructuring depends on catalyst concentration, temperature, and polymer density and show that the dynamics for its formation can be understood in a semi-quantitative manner using the interaction potentials between the particles as input. The structuring of the copolymers and the AB sequences resulting from the reactions can be discussed in the context of the phase behaviour of correlated random copolymers. The location of the spinodal line as found in our simulations is consistent with analytical predictions. Finally, we show that the observed structuring depends not only on the chemical distribution of the A and B monomers but also on the mode of formation of this distribution.

Graphical abstract: Structuring polymer gels via catalytic reactions

Back to tab navigation

Publication details

The article was received on 08 Sep 2017, accepted on 03 Nov 2017 and first published on 03 Nov 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01814B
Citation: Soft Matter, 2017,13, 8706-8716
  •   Request permissions

    Structuring polymer gels via catalytic reactions

    V. Hugouvieux and W. Kob, Soft Matter, 2017, 13, 8706
    DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01814B

Search articles by author