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Adsorption of Novel Block Copolymers for Steric Stabilization and Flocculation of Colloidal Particles in Aqueous Environments

by Krsmanovic, Jody Lynn

Abstract (Summary)
The adsorption of several homopolymer polypeptides on Al2O3 and SiO2 particles and surfaces was investigated to identify possible anchor and tail blocks for brush-forming block copolypeptides. Poly-L-(glutamic acid) (GLU) and poly-L-(aspartic acid) (ASP) were found to adsorb on positively charged and nearly neutral Al2O3, while the GLU did not adsorb on negatively charged SiO2. Poly-L-proline (PRO) adsorbed only slightly on the alumina, but showed high affinity adsorption on silica. These results are useful in designing a brush forming block copolymer with the GLU acting as the anchor block and the PRO as the tail block. An important finding in this work is that these unstructured polypeptides, or proteins that only have primary and secondary structure, have adsorption behavior that is similar to that of synthetic polymers. The complexation between a random copolymer of two amino acids, glutamic acid and tyrosine, and poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) was studied using an in-situ adsorption experiment. It was shown that the adsorption of the random copolymer greatly increased the adsorption of PEO. It was found that the conformation of the copolymer on the surface was controlled by the ionic strength, and the conformation of the adsorbed PEO was controlled by the PEO molecular weight. Both of these factors affected the molar complexation ratio between the PEO and the tyrosine repeat units. The adsorption of two novel triblock copolymers, with PEO tails and anionic hydrophobic center blocks, was studied on alumina and silica surfaces. On silica the adsorption was due to the PEO tails, resulting in low adsorbed amounts. The adsorption was much greater on alumina, indicating either brush formation on the surface or the adsorption of micelles, which are present in solution. The effect of adsorbed polymer on the steric stabilization of alumina particles was studied using sedimentation and electrophoretic mobility experiments. These results do not show conclusively that the triblock copolymer adsorption led to particle stabilization. It is possible that better colloid stabilization of the alumina may be realized by changing the triblock composition to get greater extension and higher packing of the PEO tails.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Dr. Kevin E. VanCott; Dr. Richey M. Davis; Dr. William A. Ducker; Dr. Alan R. Esker; Dr. Aaron S. Goldstein

School:Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

School Location:USA - Virginia

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:chemical engineering

ISBN:

Date of Publication:02/24/2003

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