Gelled polymerizable microemulsions. 2. Microstructure
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Using bicontinuous microemulsions as templates opens a new field for the design of novel structures and thus novel materials, but has significant challenges due to the very small composition and temperature windows in which microemulsions are bicontinuous. In previous work we had shown that we can take a ternary base system (water-n-dodecane-C13/15E5), add monomer and cross-linker (N-isopropylacrylamide and N,N'-methylenebisacrylamide) to the water phase, and add a gelator (12-hydroxyoctadecanoic acid) to the oil phase while remaining in the one-phase region of the phase diagram. It Was also possible to allow the gelator to form an organogel by changing the temperature such that we crossed the sol-gel line, which fell within the one-phase region. In this work, we show conclusively that addition of the monomers and the gelator does not affect the microemulsion microstructure and that, even in the gelled state, the polymerizable microemulsion is indeed bicontinuous. H-1 NMR self-diffusion, conductivity, and small-angle neutron scattering measurements all confirm the bicontinuous nature of the gelled polymerizable microemulsion.