Stimuli-responsive materials or smart materials are designed materials whose properties can be changed significantly by applying external stimuli, such as stress, electric or magnetic fields, light, temperature, and pH. We report the linear and nonlinear rheological properties of thermoresponsive composite gels based on submicron-sized hematite pseudocube-shaped particles and a triblock copolymer Pluronic F127 (PF127). These novel composites form hard gels at an elevated temperature of 37 °C. For certain concentrations (<20 w/v. %) of hematite pseudocubes in 17.5 w/v. % of PF127, the gel strength is enhanced and the brittleness of the gels decreases. Higher concentrations (>20 w/v. %) of hematite pseudocubes in PF127 result in weaker and fragile gels. We develop an extensive rheological fingerprint using linear and nonlinear rheological studies. Adsorption of PF127 copolymer molecules on the hematite cube surfaces would further assist the formation of particle clusters along with magnetic interactions to be held effectively in the PF127 micellar network at elevated temperatures. The microscopic structure of these composite gels is visualized through a confocal microscope. Our experiments show that addition of hematite cubes up to 20 w/v. % does not change the rapid thermal gelation of PF127 solutions; hence, the hematite–PF127 composite, which transforms into a hard gel near human body temperature of 37 °C, could be suitable for use in smart drug delivery systems.
Rheology and microstructure of thermoresponsive composite gels of hematite pseudocubes and Pluronic F127
Note: This paper is part of the JCP Special Topic on Colloidal Gels.
Prasanna More, Surya Narayana Sangitra, H. B. Bohidar, Ravi Kumar Pujala; Rheology and microstructure of thermoresponsive composite gels of hematite pseudocubes and Pluronic F127. J. Chem. Phys. 7 December 2022; 157 (21): 214902. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0109525
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