Anisotropic mesoporous silica/microgel core–shell responsive particles†
Hybrid anisotropic microgels were synthesised using mesoporous silica as core particles. By finely controlling the synthesis conditions, the latter can be obtained with different shapes such as platelets, primary particles or rods. Using the core particles as seeds for precipitation polymerisation, a crosslinked poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) microgel shell could be grown at the surface, conferring additional thermo-responsive properties. The different particles were characterised using scattering and imaging techniques. Small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) was employed to identify the shape and porous organisation of the core particles and dynamic light scattering (DLS) to determine the swelling behaviour of the hybrid microgels. In addition, cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) imaging of the hybrids confirms the different morphologies as well as the presence of the microgel network and the core–shell conformation. Finally, the response of the particles to an alternating electric field is demonstrated for hybrid rod-shaped microgels in situ using confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM).