Fecha: 14 de diciembre de 2023.
Hora: de 12:30h a 13:30h.
Lugar: Aula A22. 

Ponente: Adri Escañuela-Copado (Universidad de Granada). 

Organiza: Grupo de Física de Fluidos y Biocoloides de la UGR.

The transport of biomolecules, drugs, or reactants encapsulated inside stimuli-responsive polymer networks in aqueous media is fundamental for many material and environmental science applications, including drug delivery, biosensing, catalysis, nanofiltration, water purification, and desalination. The transport is particularly complex in dense polymer media, such as collapsed hydrogels, where the molecules strongly interact with the polymer network and diffuse via a hopping mechanism. In this study, we employ Dynamical Density Functional Theory (DDFT) to investigate the non-equilibrium release kinetics of non-ionic subnanometer-sized molecules initially uploaded inside collapsed microgel particles. The theory is consistent with previous molecular dynamics simulations of collapsed poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) polymer matrices, accommodating molecules of varying shapes and sizes. We found that, despite the intricate physico-chemical properties involved in the released process, the kinetics is predominantly dictated by two material parameters: the diffusion coefficient of the molecules inside the microgel (D∗) and the interaction free energy of the molecules with the microgel (ΔG). Our results reveal two distinct limiting regimes: For large, slowly diffusing molecules weakly attracted to the polymer network, the release is primarily driven by diffusion, with a release time that scales as τ1/2∼1/D∗. Conversely, for small molecules strongly attracted to the polymer network, the release time is dominated by the interaction, scaling as τ1/2∼exp(−ΔG/kBT). Our DDFT calculations are directly compared with an analytical equation for the half-release time, demonstrating excellent quantitative agreement. This equation represents a valuable tool for predicting release kinetics of non-ionic molecules from collapsed microgels.

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