Study of the conformation of polyelectrolyte aggregates using coarse- grained molecular dynamics simulations

T Mima and T Kinjo and S Yamakawa and R Asahi, SOFT MATTER, 13, 5991-5999 (2017).

DOI: 10.1039/c7sm01196b

The conformation of polyelectrolyte aggregates as a function of the backbone rigidity is investigated by coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulation. The polyelectrolyte is represented by a bead-spring chain with charged side chains. The simulations start from the uniform distributions of the polyelectrolytes, and the resultant polyelectrolyte conformation after a few microseconds exhibits spherical self- aggregates, clusters, or bending bundle-like aggregates, depending on the backbone rigidity. The interaggregate structures on a large scale are featured by the static structure factor (SSF). The simulated SSFs of the bending bundle-like aggregates are consistent with those of the small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) measurement so we successfully assign the microscopic structures of polyelectrolytes to the SAXS measurement. The power-law of the SSFs for the bundle conditions is steeper than that of the conventional cylinder model. The present study finds that such discrepancy in the power-law results from the bending of the bundle-like aggregates. In addition, the relaxation behavior includes slow dynamics. The present study proposes that such slow dynamics results from diffusion-limited aggregation and from gliding processes to reduce local metastable folding within the aggregates.

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