Mechanics from Calorimetry: Probing the Elasticity of Responsive Hydrogels
AbstractTemperature-sensitive hydrogels based on polymers such as poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) undergo a volume phase transition in response to changes in temperature. During this transition, distinct changes in both thermal and mechanical properties are observed. Here, we illustrate and exploit the inherent thermodynamic link between thermal and mechanical properties by showing that the compressive elastic modulus of PNIPAM hydrogels can be probed using differential scanning calorimetry. We validate our approach by using conventional osmotic compression tests. Our method could be particularly valuable for determining the mechanical response of thermosensitive submicron-sized and/or oddly shaped particles, to which standard methods are not readily applicable.