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Issue 1, 2013
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Persistence length of polyelectrolytes with precisely located charges

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The conformation of polyelectrolytes in aqueous salt solutions is closely related to their self-assembly properties. In particular, the persistence length has a large impact on how the chain can arrange itself. In this work, biomimetic poly N-substituted glycines (polypeptoids) have been designed to position charged side chains at precise distances from each other to elucidate the relationship between the spacing of the charges along the backbone, the ionic strength, and the persistence length. Using small angle neutron scattering (SANS), it is shown that at low ionic strength, polypeptoids with charged groups located closer to each other along the polymer backbone are stiffer than those with the charged groups spaced further apart. At high ionic strength, the total persistence length decreases for both macromolecules because the electrostatic repulsions between ionized groups are screened. The measured persistence lengths were compared to those calculated using a discrete chain model with bending rigidity, and it is shown that the electrostatic persistence length scales quadratically with the Debye screening length. It is also shown that the bare persistence length of a molecule with alternating ionizable and hydrophilic groups is larger than that of a molecule containing 100% ionizable groups. This difference can be attributed to the longer hydrophilic side chains that may induce local chain stiffening.

Graphical abstract: Persistence length of polyelectrolytes with precisely located charges

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Publication details

The article was received on 09 Aug 2012, accepted on 02 Oct 2012 and first published on 16 Oct 2012

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C2SM26849C
Citation: Soft Matter, 2013,9, 90-98

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    Persistence length of polyelectrolytes with precisely located charges

    H. K. Murnen, A. M. Rosales, A. V. Dobrynin, R. N. Zuckermann and R. A. Segalman, Soft Matter, 2013, 9, 90
    DOI: 10.1039/C2SM26849C

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