Journal article

Thermotropic ionic liquid crystals via self-assembly of cationic hyperbranched polypeptides and anionic surfactants

This work describes the dilute solution and solid-state structure of polyelectrolyte complexes generated from hyperbranched polylysine (HBPL) and various anionic, sodium alkyl sulfate surfactants. In dilute solution, the radius of gyration (Rg) of the HBPL and HBPL-surfactant complexes was determined in the Guinier regime in good solvent conditions by means of small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). With increasing molecular weight of the HBPL, an increase in Rg up to a maximum of 3.7 and 4.2 nm was observed for the HBPLs and HBPL-surfactant complexes, respectively. In the solid state, HBPL-surfactant complexes were found to form liquid crystalline (LC) phases, whose thermal stability and structure depended both on the molecular weight of the HBPL as well as on the nature of the anionic surfactant. Depending on the surfactant alkyl chain length, liquid crystalline phases with short range liquid-like order, columnar hexagonal packing or lamellar ordering were observed. By combination of small-angle X-ray scattering, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and cross-polarized light optical microscopy (CPOM), the exact structure of the LC phases, as well as their region of thermal stability, could be identified. HBPL-sodium dodecyl sulfate LC phases showed thermotropic behavior and underwent two transitions with increasing temperature. First, at lower temperatures, an order-nematic transition was observed. Upon further temperature increase, a second transition from a nematic to an isotropic phase was observed. Structural models for these different LC phases are proposed. © 2007 American Chemical Society.


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