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Interaction of adsorbed polymers with supported cationic bilayers


The interaction forces between bilayers of the cationic surfactant di(tallow ethyl ester)dimethyl ammonium chloride (DEEDMAC) were measured using a Surface Forces Apparatus (SFA) with and without an adsorbing polymer, polyacrylamide (PAM). In the absence of PAM, the forces measured between the bilayer surfaces were purely repulsive on approach and separation and is charge regulated. Addition of PAM induced structural changes to the bilayer interfaces, and resulted in the formation of bilayer-like patches of DEEDMAC decorated PAM (hydrated) on the mica surface. The interaction potential between these surfaces showed a modified DLVO interaction with an additional monotonic steric hydration repulsion on approach with an exponential force decay length of D steric ∼ 1 nm consistent with the measurements of hydration forces. On separating the surfaces, interdigitated polymers bridge between the two surfaces, resulting in a weak adhesion (adhesion energy, W0 ∼ 0.1 mJ m-2). Our results provide a picture of the complex molecular structure and interactions between uncharged adsorbing water soluble polymers and supported charged bilayers, and highlight the effects of adsorbing polymers on the structure of bilayers. Implications for the stability of vesicles in dispersions have been also discussed. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2013.

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