Self-assembly of spherical interpolyelectrolyte complexes from oppositely charged polymers

Vladimir A. Baulin 1, 2, Emmanuel Trizac 3

Soft Matter 8 (2012) 2755-2766

The formation of inter-polyelectrolyte complexes from the association of oppositely charged polymers in an electrolyte is studied. The charged polymers are linear oppositely charged polyelectrolytes, with possibly a neutral block. This leads to complexes with a charged core, and a more dilute corona of dangling chains, or of loops (flower-like structure). The equilibrium aggregation number of the complexes (number of polycations m+ and polyanions m-) is determined by minimizing the relevant free energy functional, the Coulombic contribution of which is worked out within Poisson-Boltzmann theory. The complexes can be viewed as colloids that are permeable to micro-ionic species, including salt. We find that the complexation process can be highly specific, giving rise to very localized size distribution in composition space (m+,m-).

  • 1. Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats [Barcelona] (ICREA),
    ICREA – Universitat de Barcelona – Fundació Catalana per a la Recerca i la Innovació (FCRI)
  • 2. Departament d'Enginyeria Quimica,
    Universitat Rovira i Virgili
  • 3. Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques (LPTMS),
    CNRS : UMR8626 – Université Paris XI - Paris Sud