Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 2, 2017
Previous Article Next Article

On tuning microgel character and softness of cross-linked polystyrene particles

Author affiliations

Abstract

Polystyrene (PS) microgel colloids have often been used successfully to model hard sphere behaviour even though the term “gel” invokes inevitably the notion of a more or less soft, deformable object. Here we systematically study the effect of reducing the cross-link density from 1 : 10 (1 cross-link per 10 monomers) to 1 : 100 on particle interactions and “softness”. We report on the synthesis and purification of 1 : 10, 1 : 25, 1 : 50, 1 : 75 and 1 : 100 cross-linked PS particles and their characterization in terms of single particle properties, as well as the behaviour of concentrated dispersions. We are able to tune particle softness in the range between soft PNiPAM-microgels and hard PMMA particles while still allowing the mapping of the microgels onto hard sphere behavior with respect to phase diagram and static structure factors. This is mainly due to a rather homogeneous radial distribution of cross-links in contrast to PNiPAM microgels where the cross-link density decreases radially. We find that up to a cross-link density of 1 : 50 particle form factors are perfectly described by a homogeneous sphere model whereas 1 : 75 and 1 : 100 cross-linked spheres are slightly better described as fuzzy spheres. However the fuzziness is rather small compared to typical PNiPAM microgels so that a hard sphere mapping still holds even for these low cross-link densities. Finally, by varying the reaction conditions – changing from batch to semibatch emulsion polymerization and varying the feed rate or by adjusting the monomer to initiator ratio we can tune the fuzziness or significantly alter the inner structure to a more open, star-like architecture.

Graphical abstract: On tuning microgel character and softness of cross-linked polystyrene particles

  • This article is part of the themed collections: Gels and Colloids
Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Publication details

The article was received on 31 Aug 2016, accepted on 18 Nov 2016 and first published on 18 Nov 2016


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C6SM02007K
Soft Matter, 2017,13, 445-457
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
  •   Request permissions

    On tuning microgel character and softness of cross-linked polystyrene particles

    J. Schneider, M. Wiemann, A. Rabe and E. Bartsch, Soft Matter, 2017, 13, 445
    DOI: 10.1039/C6SM02007K

    This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. Material from this article can be used in other publications provided that the correct acknowledgement is given with the reproduced material.

    Reproduced material should be attributed as follows:

    • For reproduction of material from NJC:
      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the RSC.
    • For reproduction of material from PCCP:
      [Original citation] - Published by the PCCP Owner Societies.
    • For reproduction of material from PPS:
      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the European Society for Photobiology, the European Photochemistry Association, and RSC.
    • For reproduction of material from all other RSC journals:
      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

    Information about reproducing material from RSC articles with different licences is available on our Permission Requests page.

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements