|Title||Effect of Polymer Concentration on the Structure and Dynamics of Short Poly(N, N-dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate) in Aqueous Solution : A Combined Experimental and Molecular Dynamics Study|
|Author(s)||Mintis, Dimitris G.; Dompé, Marco; Kamperman, Marleen; Mavrantzas, Vlasis G.|
|Source||The Journal of Physical Chemistry Part B: Condensed Matter, Materials, Surfaces, Interfaces & Biophysical 124 (2020). - ISSN 1520-6106 - p. 240 - 252.|
|Department(s)||Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter|
|Publication type||Refereed Article in a scientific journal|
A combined experimental and molecular dynamics (MD) study is performed to investigate the effect of polymer concentration on the zero shear rate viscosity η0 of a salt-free aqueous solution of poly(N,N-dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate) (PDMAEMA), a flexible thermoresponsive weak polyelectrolyte with a bulky 3-methyl-1,1-diphenylpentyl unit as the terminal group. The study is carried out at room temperature (T = 298 K) with relatively short PDMAEMA chains (each containing N = 20 monomers or repeat units) at a fixed degree of ionization (α+ = 100%). For the MD simulations, a thorough validation of several molecular mechanics force fields is first undertaken for assessing their capability to accurately reproduce the experimental observations and established theoretical laws. The generalized Amber force field in combination with the restrained electrostatic potential charge fitting method is eventually adopted. Three characteristic concentration regimes are considered: the dilute (from 5 to 10 wt %), the semidilute (from 10 to 20 wt %), and the concentrated (from 20 to 29 wt %); the latter two are characterized by polymer concentrations cp higher than the characteristic overlap concentration cp*. The structural behavior of the PDMAEMA chains in the solution is assessed by calculating the square root of their mean-square radius of gyration «Rg 2»0.5, the square root of the average square chain end-to-end distance «Ree 2»0.5, the ratio «Ree 2»/«Rg 2», and the persistence length Lp. It is observed that at low polymer concentrations, PDMAEMA chains adopt a stiffer and slightly extended conformation because of excluded-volume effects (a good solvent is considered in this study) and electrostatic repulsions within the polymer chains. As the polymer concentration increases above 20 wt %, the PDMAEMA chains adopt more flexible conformations, as the excluded-volume effects seize and the charge repulsion within the polymer chains subsides. The effect of total polymer concentration on PDMAEMA chain dynamics in the solution is assessed by calculating the orientational relaxation time τc of the chain, the center-of-mass diffusion coefficient D, and the zero shear rate viscosity η0; the latter is also measured experimentally here and found to be in excellent agreement with the MD predictions.