Conformational relaxation dynamics of a poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) aqueous solution measured using the laser temperature jump transient grating method

Hayato Inoue, Kenji Katayama*, Kaoru Iwai, Atsushi Miura, Hiroshi Masuhara

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We observed phase transition and phase relaxation processes of a poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) aqueous solution using the heterodyne transient grating (HD-TG) method combined with the laser temperature jump technique. The sample temperature was instantaneously raised by about 1.0 K after irradiation of a pump pulse to crystal violet (CV) molecules for heating, and the phase transition was induced for the sample with an initial temperature just below the lower critical solution temperature (LCST); the following phase relaxation dynamics was observed. Turbidity relaxation was observed in both the turbidity and HD-TG responses, while another relaxation process was observed only in the HD-TG response, namely via the refractive index change. It is suggested that this response is due to formation of globule molecules or their assemblies since they would have nothing to do with turbidity change but would affect the refractive index, which is dependent on the molar volume of a chemical species. Furthermore, the grating spacing dependence of the HD-TG responses suggests that the response was caused by the counter propagating diffusion of the coil molecules as a reactant species and the globule molecules as a product species and the lifetime of the globule molecules ranged from 1.5 to 5 seconds. Thus, we conclude that the turbidity reflects the dynamics of aggregate conditions, not molecular conditions. The coil and globule sizes were estimated from the obtained diffusion coefficient. The sizes of the coil molecules did not change at the initial temperatures below the LCST but increased sharply as it approaches LCST. We propose that the coil-state molecules associate due to hydrophobic interaction when the initial temperature was higher than LCST minus 0.5 K and that the globule-state molecules generated from the coil-state molecules showed a similar trend in temperature. The phase transition was also induced by heating under a microscope, and the relaxation process was followed using the fluorescence peak shift of a fluorescent molecule-labeled PNIPAM. The result also supports the existence of a globule molecule or its assembly remains for several seconds in the phase relaxation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5620-5627
Number of pages8
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number16
StatePublished - 28 Apr 2012

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