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Soft Matter 2007 Aug 14;39:1130-1134. doi: 10.1039/b708788h.
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From sea-urchins to starfishes: controlling the adsorption of star-branched polyelectrolytes on charged walls.

Konieczny M , Likos CN .

We demonstrate that star-branched polyelectrolytes are a versatile soft component forming a variety of well-characterised conformations upon electrostatic complexation on oppositely charged planar surfaces. We discover and characterise five complexation shapes, described by a two-dimensional morphological order parameter. These shapes are distinguished on the basis of their deviations from sphericity, the orientation of the polyelectrolyte arms, and the equilibrium centre-to-surface distance of the stars. Conformational transformations can be steered by changing the electrostatic surface-star coupling and/or the star functionality. For low functionalities and/or strong external fields, full collapse of the star onto the wall, forming a starfish configuration, is observed. Otherwise, partially adsorbed states with a fraction of chains pointing away from the surface and with the star core being detached from the wall are formed.

PubMed ID: 32900033
Article link: Soft Matter