Physical deposition behavior of stiff amphiphilic polyelectrolytes in an external electric field

DM Hu and CC Zuo and QQ Cao and HL Chen, PHYSICA SCRIPTA, 92, 085701 (2017).

DOI: 10.1088/1402-4896/aa75f1

Coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations are conducted to study the physical deposition behavior of stiff amphiphilic polyelectrolytes (APEs) in an external electric field. The effects of chain stiffness, the charge distribution of a hydrophilic block, and electric field strength are investigated. Amphiphilic multilayers, which consist of a monolayer of adsorbed hydrophilic monomers (HLMs), a hydrophobic layer, and another hydrophilic layer, are formed in a selective solvent. All cases exhibit locally ordered hydrophilic monolayers. Two kinds of hydrophobic micelles are distinguished based on local structures. Stripe and network hydrophobic patterns are formed in individual cases. Increasing the chain stiffness decreases the thickness of the deposited layer, the lateral size of the hydrophobic micelles, and the amount of deposition. Increasing the number of positively charged HLMs in a single chain has the same effect as increasing chain stiffness. Moreover, when applied normally to the substrate, the electric field compresses the deposited structures and increases the amount of deposition by pulling more PEs toward the substrate. A stronger electric field also facilitates the formation of a thinner and more ordered hydrophilic adsorption layer. These estimates help us explore how to tailor patterned nanosurfaces, nano-interfaces, or amphiphilic nanostructures by physically depositing semi-flexible APEs which is of crucial importance in physical sciences, life sciences and nanotechnology.

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