A new paper from the group came out today in ACS Macro Letters entitled “Packed Colloidal Phases Mediate the Synthesis of Raspberry-Structured Microgel Heteroaggregates“. The paper basically describes how you can take advantage of the “self-healing” properties of packed microgel assemblies to decorate other colloidal particles with microgels. Basically, a “hard” particle like a poly(styrene) or silica sphere can be dispersed into a viscous microgel fluid, or a packed glassy phase, and then the microgels that are in intimate contact with that “defect” can be coupled to its surface. The resultant raspberry structured particles then have the hybrid properties of a dense core and a hydrophilic hydrogel shell. Whereas similar structures have bee made by other approaches, we find this method very scalable and easy to use. The approach allows for a variety of different materials to be made without worrying about the somewhat finicky colloid chemistry associated with heteroaggregation from dilute media, which is another approach to making such materials.
Jeff and Shalini led this work and a former REU student, Danielle Montanari (currently at Utah) helped tremendously during her time here. These particles are now being used in a collaboration with the McDevitt lab – we hope to tell you about that work soon – stay tuned.