Dynamics and energetics of the self-assembly of a hydrophobically modified polyelectrolyte: Naphthalene-labeled poly(acrylic acid)

T Costa, M D Miguel, Björn Lindman, Karin Schillén, J S S de Melo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence studies were performed on aqueous solutions of poly(acrylic acid) hydrophobically modified with two very different levels of naphthalene (Np). It is demonstrated that unique information on association phenomena involving hydrophobe-modifed polymers can be obtained from an extended fluorescence study by using data for a less-modified polymer as a reference. For the more highly modified polymer, the presence of excited-state (as well as ground-state) dimers in addition to monomer emission due to locally excited naphthalene gives evidence for hydrophobic association between naphthalene groups. This association becomes, as expected, much less important at higher pH due to the electrostatic repulsion between different chain segments. However, it is noted that even at high pH there is a significant self-association. The coexistence of static and dynamic quenching phenomena of the Np monomer label was also revealed in the time-resolved fluorescence data. The data are compatible with the existence of two types of monomers and one excimer and suggest that the essential contribution to the monomer emission comes from isolated chromophores, whereas excimer formation arises from both a dynamic route (excited Np chromophores able to produce a dynamic excimer) and a static route (excitation of ground-state Np dimers). At room temperature, the dissociative reaction, excimer-to-monomer, can be neglected, and thus the rate constant for excimer formation and decay could be obtained with and without considering the influence of preformed dimers. Temperature has shown to induce different behavior in the polymer photophysics. In the case of the less-labeled polymer, the decays were found to be single-exponential with the fluorescence lifetime decreasing with increasing temperature. From the temperature dependence of the steady-state fluorescence data, the activation energy for excimer formation and the binding energy of the excimer were evaluated at different pH values, through the Stevens-Ban-type plots of the excimer-to-monomer intensity ratio. With the time-resolved data, measured in the temperature range of 5-60 degrees C, it was possible to extract the intrinsic activation energies for excimer formation. The thermodynamic driving force for the intrapolymeric association was found to be dependent on a balance between hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions, which are dependent on the pH, temperature, and hydrophobic content of the polymer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11478-11492
JournalThe Journal of Physical Chemistry Part B
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Physical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Dynamics and energetics of the self-assembly of a hydrophobically modified polyelectrolyte: Naphthalene-labeled poly(acrylic acid)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this