302. Temperature dependent single-chain structure of poly[3-(acrylamidopropyl-dimethyl-ammonium) propyl-1-sulfonate] via small-angle neutron scattering

Phillip D. Pickett, Yuanchi Ma, Michael Lueckheide, Yimin Mao and Vivek M. Prabhu; The Journal of Chemical Physics; (2022); DOI: 10.1063/5.0093158 (open access)

Responsive polyzwitterionic materials have become important for a range of applications such as environmental remediation and targeted drug delivery. Much is known about the macroscopic phase-behaviors of such materials, but how the smaller scale single-chain structures of polyzwitterions respond to external stimuli is not well understood, especially at temperatures close to their phase boundaries. Such chain conformation responses are important in directing larger-scale associative properties. Here, we study the temperature dependent single-chain structure of a model polysulfobetaine, poly[3-(acrylamidopropyl-dimethyl-ammonium) propyl-1-sulfonate], using small angle neutron scattering. In the absence of salt, we find that temperature has a large effect on solvent quality with a decreasing trend from good solvent conditions at 50 °C to poor solvent at 10 °C (a temperature just above the cloud point of 7.6 °C) and an estimated theta temperature of 39 °C. When 100 mM NaCl is present, the solvent quality is good with weak temperature dependence. Without salt present, the polymer chain appears to have a nearly Gaussian coil conformation and the backbone becomes slightly more rigid as the temperature is lowered to the cloud point as determined by the Debye-local rod model on a Kratky plot. The addition of salt has a notable effect on the intra-chain correlations where an increase in chain dimensions to a swollen coil conformation and an increase in chain rigidity is observed at 100 mM NaCl in D2O, however, with a negligible temperature dependence.