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Duval, J. F. L. ; Zimmermann, R. ; Cordeiro, A. L. ; Rein, N. ; Werner, C.
Electrokinetics of diffuse soft interfaces. IV. Anaylsis of streaming current measurements at thermoresponsive thin films

Streaming current measurements were performed on poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)-co-N-(1-phenylethyl) acrylamide [P(NIPAAm-co-PEAAm)] thermoresponsive thin films above and below the transition temperature of the polymer (i.e., at 22 and 4 °C, respectively). Electrokinetic measurements (ionic strength 0.01-10 mM KCl, pH 2.5-9.5 in 1 mM KCl) revealed that the charging of the polymer/aqueous solution interface is determined by unsymmetrical adsorption of hydroxide and hydronium ions onto the Teflon AF substrate that supports the hydrogel film. The magnitude of the streaming current significantly decreased with decreasing temperature, that is, when the hydrogel was swelling. The pH- and ionic strength-dependent data for unswollen and swollen films were interpreted on the basis of the here-reported general theory for the electrokinetics of diffuse soft gel layers. The formalism based on the Debye-Brinkman equation for hydrodynamics and the nonlinear Poisson-Boltzmann equation for electrostatics extends previous theoretical studies by considering the most general situation of a charged gel layer supported by a charged rigid surface. Full analytical expression is provided for the streaming current in the limit of homogeneous distribution of segments under low potential conditions. Numerical analysis of the governing transport and electrostatic equations allows for the computation of streaming current for cases where analytical developments are not possible. The theory successfully reproduces the electrokinetic data for the P(NIPAAm-co-PEAAm) copolymer film at 22 and 4 °C over the whole range of pH and ionic strength examined. It is found that the 3-fold increase of the hydrogel film thickness with decreasing temperature from 22 to 4 °C (i.e., from 23 to 70 nm as measured by ellipsometry), is in line with homogeneous swelling and an increase of the hydrodynamic penetration length (1/?o) by a factor of 1.6. Additionally, the hydrodynamic thicknesses (?H) of the swollen and unswollen hydrogels are evaluated in terms of their respective hydrodynamic penetration length and electrosurface characteristics of the supporting Teflon AF surface.

Source
Langmuir 25, 10691-10703

DOI
http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/la9011907

Published
September 2009
 
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