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Thermosensitive Molecular, Colloidal, and Bulk Interactions Using a Simple Surfactant

Authors

  • Thomas E. Kodger,

    1. School of Engineering and Applied Science, Harvard University, 9 Oxford Street, Cambridge MA, 02138, USA
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  • Joris Sprakel

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory of Physical Chemistry and Colloid Science, Wageningen University, Dreijenplein 6, 6703 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands
    • Laboratory of Physical Chemistry and Colloid Science, Wageningen University, Dreijenplein 6, 6703 HB Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Abstract

Efficient use of (nano)particle self-assembly for creating nanostructured materials requires sensitive control over the interactions between building blocks. Here, a very simple method for rendering the interactions between almost any hydrophobic nano- and microparticles thermoswitchable is described and this attraction is characterized using colloid probe atomic force microscopy (CP-AFM). In a single-step synthesis, a thermoresponsive surfactant is prepared that through physical adsorption generates a thermosensitive brush on hydrophobic surfaces. These surface layers can reversibly trigger gelation and crystallization of nano- and microparticles, and at the same time can be used to destabilize emulsions on demand. The method requires no chemical surface modification yet is universal, reproducible, and fully reversible.

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