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Responsive polymers

Responsive polymers are able to change their physical properties through an external stimulus such as temperature, pH value, ionic strength and light. An example of this is the temperature-induced change in the solubility of a thermoresponsive polymer in a particular solvent. In the case of polymers with a lower critical solution temperature (LCST), the solubility decreases drastically above a certain temperature and polymer-polymer interactions are preferred. In contrast, polymers with an upper critical solution temperature (UCST) are only well solvated in the corresponding solvent above a certain temperature. In our group we synthesize linear and cross-linked polymers with tailor-made LCST and UCST behavior. We use free radical polymerizations such as emulsion and precipitation polymerization as well as RAFT and ATRP. We investigate the morphology of these polymers as a function of various external stimuli using dynamic and static light scattering as well as methods of neutron scattering. This gives us information about the local and global structure and changes in it. We are particularly interested in the volume phase transition of responsive microgels and hollow hydrogel capsules.

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