Heterogeneity and Hysteresis in the Polymer Collapse of Single Core-Shell Stimuli-Responsive Plasmonic Nanohybrids

Charlotte Flatebo, Chayan Dutta, Behnaz Ostovar, Stephan Link, Christy F. Landes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Broad application of polymeric stimuli-responsive smart nanohybrids requires understanding the mechanisms governing active control. Ensemble techniques have identified inhomogeneous polymer collapse in microgels that potentially arise from heterogeneous interchain interactions and differences in core size. A single-particle examination would establish the influence of core size and internal polymer network heterogeneity on local interactions that contribute to the observed inhomogeneous polymer collapse dynamics of nanohybrids. Using single-particle dark-field spectroscopy, we investigated the complex polymer collapse profiles of core-shell plasmonic nanohybrids comprising thermoresponsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (pNIPAM)-encapsulated gold nanorods (AuNRs). We report that the polymer collapse behavior was independent of the core size. For thinner polymer shells, we observed hysteresis in the collapse of AuNR@pNIPAMs, likely related to local pNIPAM aggregation due to interchain hydrogen bonding. For thicker polymer shells, we observed a broad polymer collapse distribution that we attributed to a two-step phase transition that arises from a polymer network density gradient. Our single-particle approach relates the internal heterogeneity of the polymer network of nanohybrids to the mechanisms underlying heterogeneous phase transitions that traditional, ensemble-averaged approaches are unable to discern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18270-18278
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 26 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Energy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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