Authors Klos, J. ; Paturej, J.
Title Spatial segregation of mixed-sized counterions in dendritic polyelectrolytes
Date 14.04.2021
Abstract Langevin dynamics simulations are utilized to study the structure of a dendritic polyelectrolyte embedded in two component mixtures comprised of conventional (small) and bulky counterions. We vary two parameters that trigger conformational properties of the dendrimer: the reduced Bjerrum length, ·*B, which controls the strength of electrostatic interactions and the number fraction of the bulky counterions, fb, which impacts on their steric repulsion. We find that the interplay between the electrostatic and the counterion excluded volume interactions affects the swelling behavior of the molecule. As compared to its neutral counterpart, for weak electrostatic couplings the charged dendrimer exists in swollen conformations whose size remains unaffected by fb. For intermediate couplings, the absorption of counterions into the pervaded volume of the dendrimer starts to influence its conformation. Here, the swelling factor exhibits a maximum which can be shifted by increasing fb. For strong electrostatic couplings the dendrimer deswells correspondingly to fb. In this regime a spatial separation of the counterions into core–shell microstructures is observed. The core of the dendrimer cage is preferentially occupied by the conventional ions, whereas its periphery contains the bulky counterions.
Journal Scientific Reports 11 (2021) 8108

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