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Materials Science Division

Charge driven assembly of polymeric materials

Most polymeric materials encountered in nature are charged. Most applications of polymeric materials in the coatings, biomedical, or food industries are used in aqueous solutions and are also charged.

In spite of their importance, charged polymeric materials are poorly understood. Under a particular set of circumstances, polymers of opposite charge in solution can phase separate into what is known as a complex coacervate. Complex coacervates exhibit a medium that is rich in water, ionic and polymeric species. As such, it offers intriguing opportunities for innovative chemical and separation processes that are just beginning to be conceived. This project seeks to develop a fundamental understanding of charge driven complexation in polymeric materials, including complex coacervation, and to exploit electrostatic interactions to discover and exploit new forms of soft matter assembly for materials design.

(M. Tirrell, W. Chen, J. de Pablo)