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Issue 14, 2010
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Controlled fabrication of polymer microgels by polymer-analogous gelation in droplet microfluidics

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Abstract

We fabricate thermo-responsive polymer microgels by combining microfluidic pre-gel emulsification with polymer-analogous gelation. This separates the microgel formation from the polymer synthesis; it combines highly controlled microfluidic templating with the great flexibility of preparative polymer chemistry, allowing each to be controlled independently. We produce monodisperse pre-gel droplets from semidilute solutions of photocrosslinkable poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) precursors. The size and morphology of these droplets can be precisely controlled by the microfluidic emulsification, provided the molecular weight of the precursor is limited. Using polymer-analogous gelation rather than monomer chain-growth gelation yields gels with a higher efficiency of crosslinking and a greater homogeneity on nano- and micrometre scales, as determined by oscillatory shear rheology, static light scattering, and optical microscopy. We also demonstrate the applicability of our method to fabricate microgel particles with well-defined concentrations of functional sites.

Graphical abstract: Controlled fabrication of polymer microgels by polymer-analogous gelation in droplet microfluidics

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
07 Mar 2010
Accepted
29 Apr 2010
First published
21 May 2010

Soft Matter, 2010,6, 3184-3190
Article type
Paper

Controlled fabrication of polymer microgels by polymer-analogous gelation in droplet microfluidics

S. Seiffert and D. A. Weitz, Soft Matter, 2010, 6, 3184
DOI: 10.1039/C0SM00071J

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