Linear and nonlinear viscoelasticity of concentrated thermoresponsive microgel suspensions
JOURNAL OF COLLOID AND INTERFACE SCIENCE
2021; 601: 886-898
We present an integrated experimental and theoretical study of the dynamics and rheology of self-crosslinked, slightly charged, temperature responsive soft poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (pNIPAM) microgels over a wide range of concentration and temperature spanning the sharp change in particle size and intermolecular interactions across the lower critical solution temperature (LCST). Dramatic, non-monotonic changes in viscoelasticity are observed as a function of temperature, with distinct concentration dependence in the dense fluid, glassy, and soft-jammed regimes. Motivated by our experimental observations, we formulate a minimalistic model for the size dependence of a single microgel particle and the change of the interparticle interaction from purely repulsive to attractive upon heating. Using microscopic equilibrium and time-dependent statistical mechanical theories, theoretical predictions are quantitatively compared with experimental measurements of the shear modulus. Good agreement is found for the nonmonotonic temperature behavior that originates as a consequence of the competition between reduced microgel packing fraction and increasing interparticle attractions. Testable predictions are made for nonlinear rheological properties such as the yield stress and strain. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to quantitatively understand in a unified manner the viscoelasticity of dense, temperature-responsive microgel suspensions spanning a wide range of temperatures and concentrations.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jcis.2021.05.111
View details for Web of Science ID 000687288600006
View details for PubMedID 34186277