Characterization of complexation and phase behavior of mixed systems of unmodified and hydrophobically modified oppositely charged polyelectrolytes
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This paper reports turbidity, rheology, zeta potential, and rheo-small angle light scattering measurements on aqueous mixtures of oppositely charged and hydrophobically modified hydroxyethylcellulose derivatives (HM-HEC(−) and HM-HEC(+)) and mixtures of oppositely charged hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC(−) and HEC(+)). The experiments were restricted to the one-phase region, i.e., at mixing ratios before and after the two-phase area. The associative phase separation behavior usually observed when mixing oppositely charged polyelectrolytes was undetectable in the mixtures of the polyelectrolytes without attached hydrophobic groups. Upon modification of HEC by incorporation of pendant hydrophobic groups and by introducing charges of negative or positive sign (HM-HEC(−) and HM-HEC(+)), the mixtures showed phase separation over a certain mixing interval, revealing the existence of large polyelectrolyte complexes. The zero shear viscosity was strongly dependent on both the hydrophobicity of the polymers and the mixing ratio, increasing significantly with hydrophobic modification of polyelectrolytes. The strong enhancement of the turbidity and the viscosity drop as the two-phase area is approached suggest the formation of fragmented non-connected complexes. This work demonstrates that if the oppositely charged polyions have a hydrophilic character, it is not necessary that the attractive Coulombic forces induce insoluble polyelectrolyte complexes.
KeywordsPolyelectrolytes Oppositely charged Hydrophobically modified Rheology Phase separation
B.N. and K.Z. gratefully acknowledge support from the Norwegian Research Council through the project 177665/V30.
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