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Echeverria, Coro, Paula I. P. Soares, Ana Robalo, Laura Pereira, Carlos Novo, Isabel Ferreira, and João Paulo Borges. "One-pot synthesis of dual-stimuli responsive hybrid PNIPAAm-chitosan microgels." Materials & Design 86 (2015): 745-751. AbstractWebsite

The incorporation of magnetic nanoparticles into poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm) and chitosan microgels gives rise to hybrid systems that combine the microgels swelling capacity with the interesting features presented in magnetic nanoparticles. The presence of chitosan that act as surfactant for magnetic nanoparticles provides a simplistic approach which allows the encapsulation of magnetic nanoparticles without any previous surface modification. Spherical and highly monodisperse microgels with diameters in the range of 200 to 500 nm were obtained. The encapsulation of magnetic nanoparticles in the polymer matrix was confirmed by high resolution Scanning Electron Microscopy in transmission mode. Volume phase transition of the microgels was accessed by Dynamic Light Scattering measurements. It was observed that the thermosensitivity of the PNIPAM microgels still persists in the hybrid microgels; however, the swelling ability is compromised in the microgels with highest chitosan content. The heating performance of the hybrid magnetic microgels, when submitted to an alternating magnetic field, was also evaluated demonstrating the potential of these systems for hyperthermia treatments.

Echeverria, Coro, Susete N. Fernandes, Maria Helena Godinho, João Borges Borges, and Paula I. P. Soares. "Functional Stimuli-Responsive Gels: Hydrogels and Microgels." Gels 4 (2018): 54. AbstractWebsite

One strategy that has gained much attention in the last decades is the understanding and further mimicking of structures and behaviours found in nature, as inspiration to develop materials with additional functionalities. This review presents recent advances in stimuli-responsive gels with emphasis on functional hydrogels and microgels. The first part of the review highlights the high impact of stimuli-responsive hydrogels in materials science. From macro to micro scale, the review also collects the most recent studies on the preparation of hybrid polymeric microgels composed of a nanoparticle (able to respond to external stimuli), encapsulated or grown into a stimuli-responsive matrix (microgel). This combination gave rise to interesting multi-responsive functional microgels and paved a new path for the preparation of multi-stimuli “smart” systems. Finally, special attention is focused on a new generation of functional stimuli-responsive polymer hydrogels able to self-shape (shape-memory) and/or self-repair. This last functionality could be considered as the closing loop for smart polymeric gels.