Structure and Rheology of Polyelectrolyte Complexes in the Presence of a Hydrogen-Bonded Co-Solvent.


NanoEngineering Group, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel. [Email]


Intermolecular interactions as well as macromolecular conformation affect the rheological and microstructural properties of polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) solutions. The properties of semi-dilute solutions of weakly charged PECs can be controlled by the degree of ionization and solvent composition. In this work, we examined the effect of ethanol as a co-solvent on PECs composed of poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) and poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) at low pH. The aqueous PECs solution was turbid, indicating formation of large aggregates, whereas PECs solution in water/ethanol (60:40 w/w) was transparent, implying no aggregation, and demonstrated higher relative viscosity than the aqueous solution, implying pronounced network formation. Imaging PECs solution by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) demonstrated aggregation, whereas the solution prepared with the mixed solvent revealed almost no phase contrast. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) of PECs in the aqueous solution indicated the presence of aggregates, while PECs in mixed solvent demonstrated a swelled macromolecular conformation with diminished aggregation. PECs with no ionic interactions in the mixed solvent assumes a homogenous network structure, which enables PECs solution processing by electrospinning.


SAXS,co-solvent,microstructure,polyelectrolyte complex,polyelectrolytes,