Explicit Ion Effects on the Charge and Conformation of Weak Polyelectrolytes.


Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA. [Email]


The titration behavior of weak polyelectrolytes is of high importance, due to their uses in new technologies including nanofiltration and drug delivery applications. A comprehensive picture of polyelectrolyte titration under relevant conditions is currently lacking, due to the complexity of systems involved in the process. One must contend with the inherent structural and solvation properties of the polymer, the presence of counterions, and local chemical equilibria enforced by background salt concentration and solution acidity. Moreover, for these cases, the systems of interest have locally high concentrations of monomers, induced by polymer connectivity or confinement, and thus deviate from ideal titration behavior. This work furthers knowledge in this limit utilizing hybrid Monte Carlo⁻Molecular Dynamics simulations to investigate the influence of salt concentration, pK a , pH, and counterion valence in determining the coil-to-globule transition of poorly solvated weak polyelectrolytes. We characterize this transition at a range of experimentally relevant salt concentrations and explicitly examine the role multivalent salts play in determining polyelectrolyte ionization behavior and conformations. These simulations serve as an essential starting point in understanding the complexation between weak polyelectrolytes and ion rejection of self-assembled copolymer membranes.


coil-globule transition,complexation,drug delivery,phase transition,polyelectrolyte brushes,polyelectrolyte complexation,separations,weak polyelectrolytes,