Kinetic Arrest in Polyion-Induced Inhomogeneously-Charged Colloidal Particle Aggregation

Truzzolillo, D.
Bordi, F.
Sciortino, F.
Cametti, C.
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Polymer chains adsorbed onto oppositely charged spherical colloidal particles can significantly modify the particle-particle interactions. For sufficient amounts of added polymers, the original electrostatic repulsion can even turn into an effective attraction and relatively large kinetically stable aggregates can form which display several unexpected and interesting peculiarities and some intriguing biotechnological implications. The attractive interaction contribution between two oppositely particles arises from the correlated adsorption of polyions at the oppositely charged particle surfaces, resulting in a non-homogeneous surface charge distribution. Here, we investigate the aggregation kinetics of polyion-induced colloidal complexes through Monte Carlo simulation, in which the effect of charge anisotropy is taken into account by a DLVO-like intra-particle potential, as recentely proposed by Velegol and Thwar [D. Velegol and P.K. Thwar, Langmuir, 17, 2001]. The results reveal that in the presence of a charge heterogeneity the aggregation process slows down due to the progressive increase of the potential barrier height upon clustering. Within this framework, the experimentally observed cluster phases in polyelectrolyte-liposomes solutions should be considered as a kinetic arrested state.
Comment: 9 pages. 11 figures
Condensed Matter - Soft Condensed Matter