Small angle neutron scattering (SANS) has been used to study the conformations, and response to added salt, of a polyelectrolyte layer grafted to the interfaces of well-defined gold nanoparticles. The polyelectrolyte layer is prepared at a constant coverage by grafting thiol-functionalized polystyrene (M-w = 53k) to gold nanoparticles of well-defined interfacial curvature (R-c = 26.5 nm) followed by a soft-sulfonation of 38% of the segments to sodium polystyrene sulfonate (NaPSS). The SANS profiles can be fit by Fermi-Dirac distributions that are consistent with a Gaussian distribution but are better described by a parabolic distribution plus an exponential tail, particularly in the high salt regime. These distributions are consistent with the predictions and measurements for osmotic and salted brushes at interfaces of low curvature. When the concentration of added salt exceeds the concentration of counterions inside the brush, there is a salt-induced deswelling, but even at the highest salt concentration the brush remains significantly swollen due to a short-ranged excluded volume interaction. This is responsible for the observed resistance to aggregation of these comparatively high concentration polyelectrolyte stabilized gold nanoparticle dispersions even in the presence of a high concentration of added salt.
- BLOCK-COPOLYMER MICELLES
- SODIUM POLY(STYRENESULFONATE)