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Structure of PAMAM Dendrimers:  Generations 1 through 11

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posted on 10.08.2004, 00:00 authored by Prabal K. Maiti, Tahir Çaǧın, Guofeng Wang, William A. Goddard
The structure and dynamics of poly(amido amide) (PAMAM) dendrimers have been of great interest both scientifically and industrially, but such important features as the distributions of atoms, channels, and strain inside these molecules remain unresolved. This paper reports results from systematic investigations of the atomistic structure of ethylenediamine (EDA) cored PAMAM dendrimer up through the 11th generation (294 852 atoms), at which point the strain energy has risen to a point that limits uniform growth of additional layers. Here we report, as a function of generation, structural properties such as radius of gyration, shape tensor, asphericity, fractal dimension, monomer density distribution, solvent accessible surface area, molecular volume, and end group distribution functions, all evaluated from extensive molecular dynamics (MD) at 300 K. We find that the radius of gyration scales as RgN1/3 over the entire range of generations, suggesting rather uniform space filling for all generations. Contrary to common expectation, we find that the outer subgenerations penetrate substantially into the interior of the dendrimer, even for G11. Consequently, the terminal amine groups are distributed throughout the interior, not just on the periphery of the dendrimer. However for G6 through G11 there is a large region of uniform density, supporting the uniform scattering model often used in interpreting the SANS (small-angle neutron scattering) and SAXS (small-angle X-ray scattering) data, which lead to sizes in excellent agreement with the calculations. The calculated single particle form factor approaches that of a sphere as the generation number increases. For the larger generations, we found that the use of continuous configuration biased Monte Carlo (CCBB MC) was essential to construct initial configurations that lead to lower final strain energies.