Logo JG-Universität MainzProf. Dr. Axel Müller


251. Plamper, F.A.; Walther, A.; Müller, A.H.E.; Ballauff, M.: Nanoblossoms: Light-Induced Conformational Changes of Cationic Polyelectrolyte Stars in Presence of Multivalent Counterions, Nano Letters 7, 167 (2007)

We analyze the structure of star-shaped polyelectrolytes in the presence of di- and trivalent counterions and we use the gained knowledge to manipulate the polyelectrolyte’s conformation by light. Applying dynamic light scattering and atomic force microscopy we demonstrate that at constant ionic strength the arms of the cationic polyelectrolyte retract when adding multivalent counterions. Adding trivalent hexacyanocobaltate(III) ions leads to a collapse of the polyelectrolyte star even at low concentrations. This is shown by analysis of the star polyelectrolytes in solution as well as in the adsorbed state on mica surfaces. Considerably higher salt concentrations are necessary to obtain the same contraction of the polyelectrolyte star if the divalent tetracyanonickelate(II) ions are used. Sufficiently high multivalent counterion concentration leads finally to the precipitation of the polymer from the solution. We demonstrate that we can switch a polyelectrolyte star from the collapsed to the expanded state by transforming the trivalent hexacyanocobaltate(III) ions into a mixture of mono- and divalent ions by UV light. Thus, these collapsed stars react to light like “nanoblossoms”. Moreover, polyelectrolyte stars precipitated through addition of the trivalent hexacyanocobaltate(III) ions can be redissolved by irradiation with light (photoinduced dissolution). Hence, the conformation and interaction of star polyelectrolytes can be switched by light. Possible applications of this novel way of manipulating polymers are discussed.

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Related links:
  • Project: SFB 481 TP A12: Structure Formation and Phase Equilibria in Concentrated Solutions of Charged Starpolymers

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