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3D Structures of Responsive Nano-Compartmentalized Microgels

Compartmentalization in soft matter is important for segregating and coordinating chemical reactions, sequestering (re)active components, and integrating multifunctionality. Advances depend crucially on quantitative 3D visualization in situ with high spatiotemporal resolution. Here, we show the direct visualization of different compartments within adaptive microgels using a combination of in situ electron and super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. We unravel new levels of structural details and address the challenge of reconstructing 3D information from 2D projections for nonuniform soft matter as opposed to monodisperse proteins. Moreover, we visualize the thermally induced shrinkage of responsive core–shell microgels live in water. This strategy opens doors for systematic in situ studies of soft matter systems and their application as smart materials.

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