Thermothickening Behavior of Self-Stabilized Colloids Formed from Associating Polymers

Yaoyao Chen, Kenneth R Shull*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The complexation of partially ethyl-quaternized poly(4-vinyl pyridine) (QVP) and poly(methacrylic acid) (PMAA) induces a dramatic change in solution viscoelasticity. In this work, we investigated a model system consisting of QVP (with 2% charge), PMAA, and dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO)-water mixed solvent (85 wt % DMSO-15 wt % water), which exhibits a remarkable thermothickening behavior, characterized by an increase of viscosity by 3 orders of magnitude when the temperature is increased by 20 °C. At low temperatures, this system behaves as a low-viscosity milky colloidal suspension that remains stable for periods of at least 1 year. At higher temperatures, the colloids swell, increasing their effective volume fraction and giving rise to the observed viscosity increase. The thermothickening/thermothinning transition temperature could be tuned by varying the stoichiometry of the mixed polymers. We utilized rheometry, UV-vis spectroscopy, and dynamic light scattering to shed light on the mechanism of this phenomenon. This simple approach for achieving tunable thermothickening capability provides a new platform for designing thermoresponsive solutions from simple polymer mixtures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4926-4933
Number of pages8
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 9 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry

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