Electrochemically Initiated Synthesis of Polyacrylamide Microgels and Core-shell Particles

Yasmeen, Nabila, Kalecki  Jakub, Borowicz, Pawel, Kutner, Wlodzimierz, Sharma Piyush S.



Herein, we developed a simple procedure for synthesizing micrometer-sized microgel particles as a suspension in an aqueous solution and thin films deposited as shells on different inorganic cores. A sufficiently high constant potential was applied to the working electrode to commence the initiator decomposition that resulted in gelation. Under hydrodynamic conditions, this initiation allowed preparing different morphology microgels at room temperature. Importantly, neither heating nor UV-light illumination was needed to initiate the polymerization. Moreover, thin films of the cross-linked gel were anchored on different core substrates, including silica and magnetic nanoparticles. Scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy imaging confirmed the microgel particles' and films' irregular shape and porous structure. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy indicated that the core coating with the microgel film was successful. Dynamic light scattering measured the micrometer size of gel particles with different combinations of acrylic monomers. Thermogravimetric analysis and the first-derivative thermogravimetric analysis revealed that the microgels' thermal stability of different compositions was different. Fourier-transform infrared and C-13 NMR spectroscopy showed successful copolymerization of the main, functional, and cross-linking monomers.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 711859.