Deswelling and deformation of microgels in concentrated packings

I. Bouhid De Aguiar, T. van de Laar, M. Meireles, A. Bouchoux, J. Sprakel*, K. Schroën

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing the particle density of a suspension of microgel colloids above the point of random-close packing, must involve deformations of the particle to accommodate the increase in volume fraction. By contrast to the isotropic osmotic deswelling of soft particles, the particle-particle contacts give rise to a non-homogeneous pressure, raising the question if these deformations occur through homogeneous deswelling or by the formation of facets. Here we aim to answer this question through a combination of imaging of individual microgels in dense packings and a simple model to describe the balance between shape versus volume changes. We find a transition from shape changes at low pressures to volume changes at high pressures, which can be explained qualitatively with our model. Whereas contact mechanics govern at low pressures giving rise to facets, osmotic effects govern at higher pressures, which leads to a more homogeneous deswelling. Our results show that both types of deformation play a large role in highly concentrated microgel suspensions and thus must be taken into account to arrive at an accurate description of the structure, dynamics and mechanics of concentrated suspensions of soft spheres.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10223
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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