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J Colloid Interface Sci. 2019 Jun 15;546:293-302. doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2019.03.072. Epub 2019 Mar 23.

Correlating the effect of co-monomer content with responsiveness and interfacial activity of soft particles with stability of corresponding smart emulsions.

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Department of Chemistry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N. T., Hong Kong.
Department of Chemistry, COMSATS University Islamabad, 45550 Park Road, Chak Shahzad, Pakistan. Electronic address:
Department of Chemistry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N. T., Hong Kong. Electronic address:



This study presents the synthesis and characterization of Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)-co-methacrylic acid (PNIPAM-co-MAA) based multi-responsive soft microgel particles employed as "smart emulsifiers" for controlled stabilization and breakage of the decane-in-water Pickering emulsions. These soft microgel particles can act as reversible stabilizers, i.e. they can either stay at the oil-water interface by supporting emulsion formation or preventing aggregates; while triggering demulsification can be controlled by varying the temperature, pH or ionic strength of the microgel system.


Dynamic light scattering was applied to observe the variation in hydrodynamic radius of the particles as a function of temperature and pH of the multi-responsive microgel system. Microgel composition was varied in terms of MAA-content and influence of this variation on their thermo-sensitivity and pH responsiveness as well as on the stability of corresponding emulsions was evaluated.


The microgel particles with highest MAA content showed a significant impact on multi-responsive behaviour. Thermal sensitivity is pH dependent under acidic conditions but this dependence is gradually reduced as the pH increases above 7.5. On the other hand, pH-responsiveness is enhanced with the rise in temperature and stable emulsions were formed under highly alkaline conditions even the temperature was far above the volume phase transition temperature (VPTT). Understanding the correlation of stimuli responsiveness at interface with the emulsion stability would help to fabricate and design novel smart Pickering emulsions with better control over desired properties.


Multi-responsive soft stabilizers; PNIPAM-co-MAA microgel; Pickering emulsions; Thermo-sensitivity; pH-responsiveness


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