We experimentally and theoretically consider highly condensed planar brushes made of charged polymers. Using X-ray reflectivity on polyelectrolytes that are anchored at the water - air interface, it is shown that such strongly stretched brushes show a slight but detectable height variation upon lateral compression. This stands in contrast to the well-accepted scaling relation in the so-called osmotic brush regime, which predicts the brush height to be independent of the grafting density. Similar effects are seen in simulations on highly compressed charged brushes. Scaling arguments that go beyond the linear approximation for the entropy of confined counterions and for weak chain-stretching are able to explain those findings on a semiquantitative level.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry