Specific Anion Effects on the Internal Structure of a Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) Brush

Timothy J. Murdoch, Ben A. Humphreys, Joshua D. Willott, Kasimir P. Gregory, Stuart W. Prescott, Andrew Nelson, Erica J. Wanless, Grant B. Webber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of anion identity and temperature on the internal nanostructure of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) brushes were investigated using neutron reflectometry (NR), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D). NR and QCM-D measurements showed that addition of strongly kosmotropic acetate anions shifted the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) to lower temperatures relative to pure D2O/H2O, while strongly chaotropic thiocyanate anions shifted the LCST to higher temperatures. Polymer density profiles derived from NR showed direct evidence of vertical phase separation at temperatures around the LCST in all conditions. Results indicate that the density profiles were not simple modulations of structures observed in D2O to higher or lower temperatures, with both anion identity and ionic strength found to influence the qualitative features of the profiles. In particular, the presence of thiocyanate broadened the LCST transition which is attributed to the ability of the thiocyanate anion to electrosterically stabilize the brush above its LCST. Complementary AFM data showed that the acetate ion induced collapsed structures while a broader transition is observed in the presence of thiocyanate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6050-6060
Number of pages11
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


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