Original Contributions

Colloid and Polymer Science

, Volume 270, Issue 2, pp 183-193

First online:

The use of dilute solution viscometry to characterize the network properties of carbopol microgels

  • J. O. CarnaliAffiliated withUnilever Research US, Inc
  • , M. S. NaserAffiliated withUnilever Research US, Inc

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We used dilute solution viscometry, specifically, measurements of intrinsic viscosity and overlap concentration to characterize two members of the carbopol family, carbopols 940 and 941. These measured quantities were then used to calculate the swollen-to-dry volume ratios for both resins over a range of ionic strengths. The variation in this ratio is representative of the swelling equilibria of the micronetwork and is modeled using standard network theory with modifications for non-Gaussian chain statistics and for fixed charges on the chains. By fitting to experimental data, the cross-link density is determined as 1450 monomer units between cross-link sites for carbopol 940 and 3300 units for carbopol 941. The shear modulus of the microgel domain is then predicted from the swelling data and found to be an order of magnitude greater than the elastic modulus measured on concentrated carbopol dispersions. We argue that this discrepancy is due to a large number of defects which reduce the cycle rank of the network. Current microgel technology specifies that their rheological behavior can be predicted once the domain cross-link density is known. Simple dilute solution viscometry appears capable of providing this prerequisite.

Key words

Microgels carbopol polyelectrolytes networks swelling