Reentrant spin glasses are frustrated disordered ferromagnets developing vortexlike textures under an applied magnetic field. Our study of a Ni0.81Mn0.19 single crystal by small angle neutron scattering clarifies their internal structure and shows that these textures are randomly distributed. Spin components transverse to the magnetic field rotate over length scales of 3–15 nm in the explored field range, decreasing as field increases according to a scaling law. Monte Carlo simulations reveal that the internal structure of the vortices is strongly distorted and differs from that assumed for “frustrated” skyrmions, built upon a competition between symmetric exchange interactions. Isolated vortices have small noninteger topological charge. The vortices keep an anisotropic shape on a three-dimensional lattice, recalling “croutons” in a “ferromagnetic soup.” Their size and number can be tuned independently by the magnetic field and concentration x (or heat treatment), respectively. This opens an original route to understand and control the influence of quenched disorder in systems hosting nontrivial spin textures.
A series of reactive poly([2-(acryloyloxy)ethyl]trimethylammonium chloride) (P(AETAC)) cationic polymers with varying degrees of polymerization were synthesized by RAFT/MADIX polymerization and investigated as stabilizers for the emulsion polymerization of N-vinylcaprolactam (PVCL) in the presence of a cross-linker. It was demonstrated that the xanthate chain end of the cationic P(AETAC-X) polymers played a crucial role to produce stable cationic PVCL-based microgels at higher initial solids content (5–10 wt %) than usually reported for the synthesis of PVCL microgels. The thermoresponsive PVCL microgels with cationic shell undergo a reversible volume shrinkage upon heating in the absence of any hysteresis in accordance with the narrow particle size distribution.
The values of the volume phase transition temperature ranged between 28 and 30 °C for the microgels synthesized using 4 and 8 wt % of P(AETAC-X) based on VCL. The presence of a cationic outer shell onto the microgels was evidenced by the positive values of the electrophoretic mobility. The swelling behavior of the thermoresponsive microgel particles can be tuned by playing on two synthesis variables which are the initial solids content and the content of P(AETAC-X) macro-RAFT stabilizer. Furthermore, the inner structure of the synthesized microgels was probed by transverse relaxation nuclear magnetic resonance (T2 NMR) and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) measurements. The fit of T2 NMR data confirmed a core–shell morphology with different cross-linking density in PVCL microgels. Through the determination of the network mesh size, SANS was suitable to explain the increase of the values of the PVCL microgel swelling ratios by increasing the initial solids content of their synthesis.