We investigated the nature and the range of interactions between negatively charged polyelectrolyte-coated surfaces as a function of salt concentration using the surface forces apparatus. The measured force profiles (interaction forces versus separation distance) are purely repulsive and show long-range electrostatic and short-range steric interactions. The measured range of interaction in salt-free as well as in low ionic strengths extends well beyond the contour length of the polyelectrolyte chain. It is shown that the interaction range between the ionic brush layers and the grafting density depend on the ionic strength of the solution. In salt-free solution, the counterions associated with polyelectrolyte cause the chains to stretch and give rise to long-range double-layer electrostatic repulsions between the opposing chains. When salt is added to the system, the electrostatic interactions are partially screened and the polymer chain regains its flexibility and therefore the range of interactions is reduced. The measured total range of interaction exhibits relatively weaker dependence on the salt concentration. We find that our force-distance profiles with added salt in a compressed regime can be very well described by the Pincus scaling model.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces