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Network parameters and volume phase transition behavior of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) hydrogels



Thermosensitive hydrogels were prepared by free radical polymerization in aqueous solution from N-isopropylacrylamide (NIPA) monomer and N,N-methylenebis(acrylamide) (MBAAm) crosslinker. The swelling equilibrium of the hydrogels in deionized water was investigated as a function of temperature and MBAAm content. The results indicated that the swelling behavior and temperature sensitivity of the hydrogels were affected by the amount of MBAAm content. The average molecular mass between crosslinks and polymer–solvent interaction parameter (χ) of the hydrogels were determined from equilibrium swelling values. The swelling variations were explained according to swelling theory based on the hydrogel chemical structure. The swelling equilibrium of the hydrogels was also investigated as a function of temperature in aqueous solutions of the anionic surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and the cationic surfactant dodecyltrimethylammonium bromide (DTAB). In deionized water, the hydrogels showed a discontinuous volume phase transition at 32°C. In SDS and DTAB solutions, the equilibrium swelling ratio and the volume phase transition temperature (lower critical solution temperature) of the hydrogels increased, which is ascribed to the conversion of nonionic PNIPA hydrogel into polyelectrolyte hydrogels because of binding of surfactant molecules through the hydrophobic interaction. Additionally, the amount of free SDS and DTAB ions was measured at different temperatures by a conductometric method; it was found that the electric conductivity of the PNIPA–surfactant systems depended strongly on both the type and concentration of surfactant solutions. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 101: 1756–1762, 2006