Sapienza, ISC-CNR and University of Lund have developed a new theoretical model that sheds new light on the properties of soft colloidal particles, of microscopic size (one thousandth of a millimeter), innumerable shapes, materials and possible uses.
The study, published in Nature Communications, reveals the properties of microgels, made of polymers and very versatile, which are used in fundamental research as well as in several practical applications.
Researchers have investigated the way in which temperature and concentration affect the structure and collective dynamics of microgels, thus influencing the final properties of the material.
“These small elastic spheres”, said Lorenzo Rovigatti from Sapienza “are very attractive because they can almost instantly change some of their microscopic properties, for example their size or softness, by changing macroscopic parametres such as sample temperature or PH”.
The analysis of the results showed that the models applied in the past to describe the microgel interaction lead to conclusions that are not compatible with the trial. Therefore, a new “multi-elastic” model was developed that, based on microgel structure, can quantitatively describe the experimental results, for a much deeper knowledge of these systems.