Diblock polyampholytes grafted onto spherical particles: Monte Carlo simulation and lattice mean-field theory
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
Spherical brushes composed of diblock polyampholytes (diblock copolymers with oppositely charged blocks) grafted onto solid spherical particles in aqueous solution are investigated by using the primitive model solved with Monte Carlo simulations and by lattice mean-field theory. Polyampholyte chains of two compositions are considered: a copolymer with a long and a short block, A(100)B(10), and a copolymer with two blocks of equal length, A(50)B(50). The B block is end-grafted onto the surface, and its charge is varied, whereas the charge of the A block is fixed. Single-chain properties, radial and lateral spatial distributions of different types, and structure factors are analyzed. The brush structure strongly depends on the charge of the B block. In the limit of an uncharged B block, the chains are stretched and form an extended polyelectrolyte brush. In the other limit with the charges of the blocks compensating each other, the chains are collapsed and form a polyelectrolyte complex surrounding the particles. At intermediate charge conditions, a polyelectrolyte brush and a polyelectrolyte complex coexist and constitute two substructures of the spherical brush. The differences of the brush structures formed by the A(100)B(10) and A(50)B(50) polyampholytes are also analyzed. Finally, a comparison of the predictions of the two theoretical approaches is made.