Small-angle neutron scattering study of structural changes in temperature sensitive microgel colloids

J Chem Phys. 2004 Apr 1;120(13):6197-206. doi: 10.1063/1.1665752.


The structure of temperature-sensitive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) microgels in dilute suspension was investigated by means of small-angle neutron scattering. A direct modeling expression for the scattering intensity distribution was derived which describes very well the experimental data at all temperatures over an extensive q range. The overall particle form as well as the internal structure of the microgel network is described by the model. The influence of temperature, cross-linking density, and particle size on the structure was revealed by radial density profiles and clearly showed that the segment density in the swollen state is not homogeneous, but gradually decays at the surface. The density profile reveals a box profile only when the particles are collapsed at elevated temperatures. An increase of the cross-linking density resulted in both an increase of the polymer volume fraction in the inner region of the particle and a reduction of the smearing of the surface. The polymer volume fraction inside the colloid decreased with increasing particle size. The structural changes are in good agreement with the kinetics of the emulsion copolymerization used to prepare the microgel colloids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acrylic Resins / chemistry*
  • Colloids / chemistry*
  • Gels / chemistry*
  • Models, Biological
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Neutron Diffraction / methods
  • Particle Size
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Surface Properties
  • Temperature


  • Acrylic Resins
  • Colloids
  • Gels
  • poly-N-isopropylacrylamide