Polysulfobetaines in Aqueous Solution and in Thin Film Geometry

Materials (Basel). 2018 May 21;11(5):850. doi: 10.3390/ma11050850.


Polysulfobetaines in aqueous solution show upper critical solution temperature (UCST) behavior. We investigate here the representative of this class of materials, poly (N,N-dimethyl-N-(3-methacrylamidopropyl) ammonio propane sulfonate) (PSPP), with respect to: (i) the dynamics in aqueous solution above the cloud point as function of NaBr concentration; and (ii) the swelling behavior of thin films in water vapor as function of the initial film thickness. For PSPP solutions with a concentration of 5 wt.%, the temperature dependence of the intensity autocorrelation functions is measured with dynamic light scattering as function of molar mass and NaBr concentration (0⁻8 mM). We found a scaling of behavior for the scattered intensity and dynamic correlation length. The resulting spinodal temperatures showed a maximum at a certain (small) NaBr concentration, which is similar to the behavior of the cloud points measured previously by turbidimetry. The critical exponent of susceptibility depends on NaBr concentration, with a minimum value where the spinodal temperature is maximum and a trend towards the mean-field value of unity with increasing NaBr concentration. In contrast, the critical exponent of the correlation length does not depend on NaBr concentration and is lower than the value of 0.5 predicted by mean-field theory. For PSPP thin films, the swelling behavior was found to depend on film thickness. A film thickness of about 100 nm turns out to be the optimum thickness needed to obtain fast hydration with H₂O.

Keywords: dynamic light scattering; phase behavior; polysulfobetaines; polyzwitterions.