Interaction between colloids with grafted diblock polyampholytes
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The interaction between composite colloidal particles composed of a spherical core and grafted AB-diblock polyampholytes (diblock copolymers with oppositely charged blocks) are investigated by using a coarse-grained model solved with Monte Carlo simulations. The B block is end-grafted onto the core of the colloid and its linear charge density is varied, whereas the linear charge density of the A block is fixed. The brush structure of a single colloid, the mean force between two colloids, and the structure of solutions of such colloids have been determined for different linear charge densities of the B blocks and block lengths. Many features of the present system are controlled by the charge of the B blocks. In the limit of uncharged B blocks, (i) the grafted chains are stretched and form an extended polyelectrolyte brush, (ii) a strong repulsive force is operating between two colloids, (iii) and the solution is thermodynamic stable and displays strong spatial correlation among the colloids. In the limit where the charges of the two types of blocks exactly compensate each other, (i) the chains are collapsed and form a polyelectrolyte complex surrounding the cores, (ii) an attractive force appears between two colloids, and (iii) strong colloid clustering appears in the solution. These features become more pronounced as the length of the polymer blocks is increased, and a phase instability occurs at sufficiently long chains. A comparison with properties for other related colloidal particles is also provided.