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Scientific article
English

Collapse transitions of a supersized neutral chain due to irreversibly adsorbed small colloidal particles

Published inColloid and polymer science, vol. 278, p. 406-417
Publication date2000
Abstract

We performed Monte Carlo simulations to study the destabilization processes of large neutral and flexible polymer chains due to irreversibly adsorbed colloidal particles attached to the chains like beads on a necklace. The particles are modeled as charged spherical units which interact with each other via repulsive electrostatic and attractive van der Waals (vdW) potentials. The usual Monte Carlo search procedure is extended and carefully checked to completely sample the chain conformational space and achieve dense conformations in the limit of both strong attractive and repulsive interaction potentials. Configurational properties, such as the radius of gyration, the end-to-end length, and the Kuhn length, are calculated as a function of the intensity of the vdW interactions and ionic strength values. It is observed that chains exhibit a new range of possible conformations compared to the classical random walk and self avoiding walk chains or polyelectrolytes. In the limit of low salt concentration, by gradually increasing vdW interactions, chains undergo a cascade of transitions from extended structures to dumbbells, from dumbbells to pearl necklaces, and from pearl necklaces to collapsed coils. Because of strong competition between the vdW and electrostatic forces, the distance along the chain between the interacting particles, and the sampling limitations, these transitions are found to sample metastable domains and to depend on the initial conformations. To gain insight into the spatial organization of the collapsed conformations, the pair correlation functions of both monomers and particles are calculated. It is shown that collapsed conformations which are the result of strong particle–particle interactions exhibit two distinct parts: a hard core mainly composed of particles and a surrounding polymeric shell composed of loops and tails. Possible effects of such a collapsed transition on the kinetics of flocculation of a mixture containing large flexible chains and small adsorbing colloidal particles are discussed.

Keywords
  • Polymer conformation
  • Adsorbed colloidal particles
  • Monte Carlo simulations
  • Collapse transition
Citation (ISO format)
CHODANOWSKI, Pierre, STOLL, Serge. Collapse transitions of a supersized neutral chain due to irreversibly adsorbed small colloidal particles. In: Colloid and polymer science, 2000, vol. 278, p. 406–417. doi: 10.1007/s003960050533
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ISSN of the journal0303-402X
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