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Supramolecular Hydrophobic Aggregates in Hydrogels Partially Inhibit Ice Formation



Clinton G. Wiener, Madhu Sudan Tyagi, Yun Liu, R. A. Weiss, Bryan D. Vogt


Prevention of ice crystallization is a challenging problem with implications in diverse applications, including the ability to examine the fundamental low temperature physics of water. Here, we demonstrate a simple route, inspired by water confinement in antifreeze proteins, to inhibit crystallization and provide high water mobility of highly supercooled water using a soft matter based on supramolecular hydrogels of copolymers of dimethylacrylamide (DMA) and 2-(N-ethylperfluorooctane sulfonamide)ethyl acrylate (FOSA). These hydrogels can suppress or inhibit freezing of their water, depending on the copolymer composition. Dynamic and static neutron scattering indicate that hydrogels with > 15 mol% FOSA can effectively inhibit ice formation. The hydrophobic nanodomains of FOSA confine water to nanoscale hydrophilic regions (<2 nm) and enable unfrozen water to persist to the lowest temperatures examined (205K). More intriguingly, very fast dynamics of the unfrozen water are observed at 295 K within the same hydrogel. The spacing between the hydrophobic nanodomains, tuned through the copolymer composition, appears to modulate the freezing of water and provides a facile route to highly supercooled water.
Journal of Physical Chemistry B


Neutron scattering, hydrogel, water dynamics


Wiener, C. , Tyagi, M. , Liu, Y. , Weiss, R. and Vogt, B. (2016), Supramolecular Hydrophobic Aggregates in Hydrogels Partially Inhibit Ice Formation, Journal of Physical Chemistry B, [online], (Accessed June 24, 2024)


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Created June 22, 2016, Updated October 12, 2021