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The collapse of a poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) chain upon heating and the phase diagrams of aqueous PNIPAM solutions with a very flat lower critical solution temperature (LCST) phase separation line are theoretically studied on the basis of cooperative dehydration (simultaneous dissociation of bound water molecules in a group of correlated sequence), and compared with the experimental observation of temperature-induced coil-globule transition by light scattering methods. The transition becomes sharper with the cooperativity parameter σ of hydration. The reentrant coil-globule-coil transition and cononsolvency in a mixed solvent of water and methanol are also studied from the viewpoint of competitive hydrogen bonds between polymer-water and polymer-methanol. The downward shift of the cloud-point curves (LCST cononsolvency) with the mol fraction of methanol due to the competition is calculated and compared with the experimental data. Aqueous solutions of hydrophobically modified PNIPAM carrying short alkyl chains at both chain ends (telechelic PNIPAM) are theoretically and experimentally studied. The LCST of these solutions is found to shift downward along the sol-gel transition curve as a result of end-chain association (association-induced phase separation), and separate from the coil-globule transition line. Associated structures in the solution, such as flower micelles, mesoglobules, and higher fractal assembly, are studied by ultra small-angle neutron scattering with theoretical modeling of the scattering function. Dynamic-mechanical modulus, nonlinear stationary viscosity, and stress build-up in start-up shear flows of the associated networks are studied on the basis of the affine and non-affine transient network theory. The molecular conditions for thickening, strain hardening, and stress overshoot are found in terms of the nonlinear amplitude A of the chain tension and the tension-dissociation coupling constant g.
- Journal of physics. Condensed matter : an Institute of Physics journal
Journal of physics. Condensed matter : an Institute of Physics journal 23(28), 2011-07-20