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In this work, a quantitative comparison between experimental swelling data of thermo-sensitive microgels and computer simulation results obtained from a coarse-grained model of polyelectrolyte network and the primitive model of electrolyte is carried out. Polymer-polymer hydrophobic forces are considered in the model through a solvent-mediated interaction potential whose depth increases with temperature. The qualitative agreement between simulation and experiment is very good. In particular, our simulations predict a gradual shrinkage with temperature, which is actually observed for the microgels studied in this survey. In addition, the model can explain the swelling behavior for different contents of ionizable groups without requiring changes in the hydrophobic parameters. Our work also reveals that the abruptness of the shrinkage of charged gels is considerably conditioned by the number of monomeric units per chain. The swelling data are also analyzed with the Flory-Rhener theory, confirming some limitations of this classical formalism.


Manuel Quesada-Pérez, Jose Ramos, Jacqueline Forcada, Alberto Martín-Molina. Computer simulations of thermo-sensitive microgels: quantitative comparison with experimental swelling data. The Journal of chemical physics. 2012 Jun 28;136(24):244903

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PMID: 22755599

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