American Chemical Society
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Conformation of Poly(styrene sulfonate) Layers Physisorbed from High Salt Solution Studied by Force Measurements on Two Different Length Scales

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journal contribution
posted on 2008-08-07, 00:00 authored by Stephan Block, Christiane A. Helm
The conformation of poly(styrene sulfonate) (PSS) layers physisorbed from 1 M NaCl is determined by force measurements and imaging on two length scales. With colloidal probe technique steric forces as predicted for neutral grafted brushes are observed. On decrease and increase of the NaCl concentration, the grafting density remains constant, yet the brush thickness swells and shrinks reversibly with the salt concentration with an exponent of −0.3. At low salt conditions, the brush length amounts to 30% of the contour length, a behavior known for polyelectrolyte brushes and attributed to the entropy of the counterions trapped in the brush. Between a PSS layer and a pure colloidal silica sphere, the same steric forces are observed, and additionally at large separations (beyond the range of the steric repulsion) an electrostatic force is found. A negatively charged AFM tip penetrates the brusha repulsive electrostatic force between the tip and surface is found, and single chains can be imaged. Thus, with the nanometer-sized AFM tip, the flatly adsorbed fraction of the PSS chains is seen, whereas the micrometer-sized colloidal probe interacts with the fraction of the chains penetrating into solution.