The pH and counter-ion response of a microphase separated poly(methyl methacrylate)-block-poly(2-(diethylamino)ethyl methacrylate)-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) hydrogel has been investigated using laser light scattering on an imprinted micron scale topography. A quartz diffraction grating was used to create a micron-sized periodic structure on the surface of a thin film of the polymer and the resulting diffraction pattern used to calculate the swelling ratio of the polymer film in situ. A potentiometric titration and a sequence of counter ion species, taken from the Hofmeister series, have been used to compare the results obtained using this novel technique against small angle X-ray scattering (nanoscopic) and gravimetric studies of bulk gel pieces (macroscopic). For the first time, the technique has been proven to be an inexpensive and effective analytical tool for measuring hydrogel response on the microscopic scale.
- laser light scattering