Indexed on: 22 Jun '16Published on: 03 Jun '16Published in: Polymers
The volume phase transition of slide-ring gels with freely-movable cross-linking junctions was investigated. Ionic chemical gels with fixed cross-linking junctions undergo volume phase transitions when they have higher than the critical degree of ionization. However, the experimentally-observed critical ionization value for slide-ring gels is much higher than theoretical values for chemical gels. This difference indicates that the volume phase transition is significantly suppressed in slide-ring gels. The mesoscale structure at various swollen or shrunken states was also investigated by small angle X-ray scattering. Changes in the scattering patterns with shrinking slide-ring gels suggest microphase separation due to the sliding of cyclic molecules threaded along the axis of the polymer chains, which may suppress the volume phase transition. In addition, slide-ring gels absorbed/desorbed greater than equilibrium volumes in the shrinking/swelling processes and showed slow dynamics; these observations are also related to their sliding properties.