Buckling and Interfacial Deformation of Fluorescent Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) Microgel Capsules

Fabian Hagemans (Corresponding Author), Fabrizio Camerin, Nabanita Hazra, Janik Lammertz, Frédéric Dux, Giovanni Del Monte, Olli Ville Laukkanen, Jérôme J. Crassous (Corresponding Author), Emanuela Zaccarelli (Corresponding Author), Walter Richtering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Hollow microgels are fascinating model systems at the crossover between polymer vesicles, emulsions, and colloids as they deform, interpenetrate, and eventually shrink at higher volume fraction or when subjected to an external stress. Here, we introduce a system consisting of microgels with a micrometer-sized cavity enabling a straightforward characterization in situ using fluorescence microscopy techniques. Similarly to elastic capsules, these systems are found to reversibly buckle above a critical osmotic pressure, conversely to smaller hollow microgels, which were previously reported to deswell at high volume fraction. Simulations performed on monomer-resolved in silico hollow microgels confirm the buckling transition and show that the presented microgels can be described with a thin shell model theory. When brought to an interface, these microgels, that we define as microgel capsules, strongly deform and we thus propose to utilize them to locally probe interfacial properties within a theoretical framework adapted from the Johnson-Kendall-Roberts (JKR) theory. Besides their capability to sense their environment and to address fundamental questions on the elasticity and permeability of microgel systems, microgel capsules can be further envisioned as model systems mimicking anisotropic responsive biological systems such as red blood and epithelial cells thanks to the possibility offered by microgels to be synthesized with custom-designed properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7257-7271
Number of pages15
JournalACS Nano
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • buckling
  • capsules
  • hollow microgels
  • in silico synthesis
  • interfaces
  • JKR theory


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