Stimuli-responsive viscosity modifiers. Academic Article uri icon


  • Stimuli responsive viscosity modifiers entail an important class of materials which allow for smart material formation utilizing various stimuli for switching such as pH, temperature, light and salinity. They have seen applications in the biomedical space including tissue engineering and drug delivery, wherein stimuli responsive hydrogels and polymeric vessels have been extensively applied. Applications have also been seen in other domains like the energy sector and automobile industry, in technologies such as enhanced oil recovery. The chemistry and microstructural arrangements of the aqueous morphologies of dissolved materials are usually sensitive to the aforementioned stimuli which subsequently results in rheological sensitivity as well. Herein, we overview different structures capable of viscosity modification as well as go over the rheological theory associated with classical systems studied in literature. A detailed analysis allows us to explore correlations between commonly discussed models such as molecular packing parameter, tube reptation and stress relaxation with structural and rheological changes. We then present five primary mechanisms corresponding to stimuli responsive viscosity modification: (i) packing parameter modification via functional group conditioning and (ii) via dynamic bond formation, (iii) mesh formation by interlinking of network nodes, (iv) viscosity modification by chain conformation changes and (v) viscosity modification by particle jamming. We also overview several recent examples from literature that employ the concepts discussed to create novel classes of intriguing stimuli responsive structures and their corresponding rheological properties. Furthermore, we also explore systems that are responsive to multiple stimuli which can provide enhanced functionality and versatility by providing multi-level and precise actuation. Such systems have been used for programmed site-specific drug delivery.

published proceedings

  • Adv Colloid Interface Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Bhat, B., Pahari, S., Kwon, J., & Akbulut, M.

complete list of authors

  • Bhat, Bhargavi||Pahari, Silabrata||Kwon, Joseph Sang-Il||Akbulut, Mustafa ES

publication date

  • November 2023