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Single-Chain Conformation for Interacting Poly(N-Isopropylacrylamide) in Aqueous Solution



Boualem Hammouda, Di Jia, He Cheng


The demixing phase behavior of Poly(N-Isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) semi-dilute aqueous solution is investigated using small-angle neutron scattering. This polymer phase separates upon heating and demixes and 32 °C. The pre-transition temperature range is characterized by two scattering modes; a low-Q (large scale) signal and a high-Q dissolved chains signal. In order to get insight this pre-transition region, especially the origin of the low-Q (large scale) structure, the zero average contrast method is used in order to isolate single-chain conformations even in the demixing polymers transition region. This method consists in measuring deuterated and non-deuterated polymers dissolved in mixtures of deuterated and non-deuterated water for which the polymer scattering length density matches the solvent scattering length density. A fixed 4% polymer mass fraction is used in a contrast variation series where the d-water/h-water fraction is varied in order to determine the match point. The zero average contrast (match point) sample displays pure single-chain scattering with no interchain contributions. Our measurements prove that the large scale structure in this semi-dilute polymer solution is due to a transient polymer network formed through hydrophobic segment-segment interactions. These increase in strength when the temperature gets close to the phase boundary. While the apparent radius of gyration increases substantially at the LCST transition due to strong interchain correlation, the single-chain true radius of gyration has been found to decrease slightly with temperature when approaching the transition.
The Open Access Journal of Science and Technology


PNIPAM, SANS, zero average contrast, LCST, semi-dilute solution, slow mode, phase transition


Hammouda, B. , Jia, D. and Cheng, H. (2015), Single-Chain Conformation for Interacting Poly(N-Isopropylacrylamide) in Aqueous Solution, The Open Access Journal of Science and Technology, [online], (Accessed July 14, 2024)


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Created April 18, 2015, Updated February 17, 2017