Smart microgels: Structure, properties & potential applications

Thomas Hellweg, Professor of Physical and Biophysical Chemistry at Bielefeld University.

Professor Thomas Hellweg from Germany's Bielefeld University told us about front-line research into smart microgels and how neutrons and X-rays can provide unique insights into these enigmatic materials during an online lecture which was part of the Joint ESS - MaxIV Science Colloquium series.

Microgels are soft, deformable and penetrable objects with an internal gel-like structure. They respond reversibly and sometimes dramatically to external stimuli like temperature, pressure or pH, which makes them appear almost life-like. This behavior promises practical functions as sensors or actuators in sub-micrometer devices, and has also captured the interest of scientists in many disciplines. In this colloquium, we’ll learn about the chemistry and physics of several such smart microgels and some promising applications.

The science colloquia co-organised by ESS and MAX IV Laboratory, aim at bringing the science made possible by neutrons and synchrotron radiation into focus, and bringing people at ESS, MAX IV and the local science community together. They are held on a monthly basis, with the venue normally alternating between MAX IV and ESS.  The colloquia have been temporarily moved to a web-based format due to physical distancing restrictions during Covid19.

The video recording of this latest colloquium can be seen here.