Fundamental studies of responsive microgel thin films at interfaces
Sorrell, Courtney Davis
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The research described covers fundamental studies of environmentally-responsive microgel-based thin films as a function of film architecture, microgel chemistry, film thickness, and environmental stimulus. Studies of multi-layer microgel thin films were conducted primarily using atomic force microscopy (AFM), quartz crystal microgravimetry (QCM), and surface plasmon resonance (SPR), each of which probed different aspects the film architecture as a function of pH of the environment around the film. Binary thin films were constructed by changing the ratios and composition of the microgels in solution to create multi-functional thin films for surface modification applications and were studied using AFM. The basic understanding of how these components create films at surfaces gives us insight into how the films perform and will allow for greater diversity without the guesswork. The morphology of films created from microgels with a degradable cross-linker was examined by AFM as a function of degradation of the particles structure. This thesis focuses mainly on very thin microgel films (<5 layers) studied using QCM, SPR, and AFM. Additional studies involving the characterization of semi-soft colloidal paint-on photonics are discussed in Appendix A.