D Karthickeyan, Deepak K Gupta and B V R Tata
Poly (N-isopropyl acrylamide-co-acrylic acid) (PNIPAM-co-Aac) microgel particles are pH responsive and exhibit volume phase transition (VPT) upon variation of pH. Dynamic light scattering (DLS) is used conventionally to identify VPT and requires a dilute suspension with particle concentration ~107 particles cm−3 and if particles are polydisperse in nature, DLS data interpretation is relatively difficult. Here we show that optical tweezers allow one to measure the VPT of a single microgel particle by measuring the optical trap stiffness, κ of trapped particle as a function of pH. We report here a sudden change in κ at VPT, which is shown to arise from a sudden decrease in particle diameter with a concomitant increase in the refractive index of the particle at VPT.