Molecular dynamics simulations of end-grafted centipede-like polymers with stiff charged side chains
College of Mechanical Science and Engineering, Jilin University, 130022, Changchun, P.R.China
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Revised: 4 January 2010
Accepted: 30 March 2010
Published online: 1 May 2010
We use molecular dynamics simulations to investigate centipede-like polymers with stiff charged side chains, end-grafted to a planar wall. The effect of the grafting density and the Bjerrum length on the conformational behaviour of the brush is examined in detail. In addition, we make a comparison of centipede-like polyelectrolyte (CPE) brushes with neutral centipede-like polymer (NCP) and linear polyelectrolyte (LPE) brushes. At weak electrostatic interaction, the main chains of the CPE chains adopt a strongly stretched conformation, and the monomer density profiles of side chains exhibit a clear oscillatory behaviour. With increasing Bjerrum length, the CPE brush undergoes a collapse transition. Compared to the CPE brushes, the counterion condensation effect is stronger for the LPE brushes, regardless of whether the electrostatic interaction is weak or strong and of whether the grafting density is low or high. Additionally, it is shown that the architecture of the grafted chains makes a weak contribution to the counterion condensation at strong electrostatic interaction. We also find that the electrostatic repulsion between charged side chains can enhance the stiffness of the main chains and thus limit the range of movement of the free-end monomers.
© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2010