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See detailMolecular versus macroscopic perspective on the demixing transition of aqueous PNIPAM solutions by studying the dual character of the refractive index
Philipp, Martine UL; Aleksandrova, Ralitsa UL; Müller, Ulrich UL et al

in Soft Matter (2014), 10(37), 7297-7305

The phase separation of aqueous poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide) (PNIPAM) solutions is known to strongly affect their volume expansion behaviour and the elastic moduli, as the latter are strongly coupled to ... [more ▼]

The phase separation of aqueous poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide) (PNIPAM) solutions is known to strongly affect their volume expansion behaviour and the elastic moduli, as the latter are strongly coupled to the macroscopic order parameter. On the molecular scale, considerable changes in H-bonding and hydrophobic interactions, as well as in the structure govern the demixing process. However, the relationship between the molecular and macroscopic order parameters is unclear for such complex phase-separating solutions. We contribute to the clarification of this problem by relating optical to volumetric properties across the demixing transition of dilute to concentrated aqueous PNIPAM solutions. Far from the demixing temperature, the temperature dependence of the refractive index is predominantly determined by thermal expansion. In the course of phase separation, the refractive index is dominated by the anomalous behaviour of the specific refractivity, which reflects the spatio-temporally averaged changes in molecular interactions and the structural reorganization of the demixing solutions. Moreover, the presence of relaxation processes is studied by the complex expansion coefficient using the novel technique of temperature modulated optical refractometry. [less ▲]

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