Public Library of Science (PLoS)
We present a new thermomechanical method and a platform to measure the phase transition temperature at microscale. A thin film metal sensor on a membrane simultaneously measures both temperature and mechanical strain of the sample during heating and cooling cycles. This thermomechanical principle of operation is described in detail. Physical hydrogel samples are prepared as a disc-shaped gels (200 μm thick and 1 mm diameter) and placed between an on-chip heater and sensor devices. The sol-gel transition temperature of gelatin solution at various concentrations, used as a model physical hydrogel, shows less than 3% deviation from in-depth rheological results. The developed thermomechanical methodology is promising for precise characterization of phase transition temperature of thermogels at microscale.
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