Interactions of a zwitterionic thiophene-based conjugated polymer with surfactants

Telma Costa, Diego De Azevedo, Beverly Stewart, Matti Knaapila, Artur J. M. Valente, Mario Kraft, Ullrich Scherf, Hugh D. Burrows

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In this paper we investigate the optical and structural properties of a zwitterionic poly[3-(N-(4-sulfonato-1-butyl)-N,N-diethylammonium)hexyl-2,5-thiophene] (P3SBDEAHT) conjugated polyelectrolyte (CPE) and its interaction in water with surfactants, using absorption, photoluminescence (PL), electrical conductivity, molecular dynamics simulations (MDS) and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). Different surfactants were studied to evaluate the effect of the head group and chain length on the self-assembly. PL data emphasize the importance of polymer-surfactant electrostatic interactions in the formation of complexes. Nevertheless, conductivity and MDS data have shown that nonspecific interactions also play an important role. These seem to be responsible for the spatial position of the surfactant tail in the complex and, eventually, for breaking-up P3SBDEAHT aggregates. SAXS measurements on P3SBDEAHT-zwitterionic cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) surfactant complexes showed a specific structural organization of the system. The CAPB surfactant promotes a structural transition from pure P3SBDEAHT 3-dimensional aggregates (radius of gyration ∼85 Å) to thick cylindrical aggregates (∼20 Å) where all CAPB molecules are associated with the polymer. For molar ratios (in terms of the polymer repeat unit) >1 the SAXS interference maximum of the complexes resembles that of pure CAPB thus suggesting ongoing phase segregation in the formation of a "pure" CAPB phase.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolymer Chemistry
Issue number46
Pages (from-to)8036-8046
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Aggregates
  • Conjugated polymers
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Organic polymers
  • Polyelectrolytes
  • Self assembly
  • Water absorption
  • X ray scattering
  • Based conjugated polymers
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine
  • Conjugated polyelectrolytes
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Molecular dynamics simulations
  • Non-specific interactions
  • Structural organization
  • Structural transitions
  • Surface active agents

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