Quantification of Water-lon Pair Interactions in Polyelectrolyte Multilayers Using a Quartz Crystal Microbalance Method

Chikaodinaka I. Eneh, Tuuva Kastinen, Suyash Oka, Piotr Batys, Maria Sammalkorpi, Jodie L. Lutkenhaus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Water existing within thin polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM) films has significant influence on their physical, chemical, and thermal properties, having implications for applications including energy storage, smart coatings, and biomedical systems. Ionic strength, salt type, and terminating layer are known to influence PEM swelling. However, knowledge of water's microenvironment within a PEM, whether that water is affiliated with intrinsic or extrinsic ion pairs, remains lacking. Here, we examine the influence of both assembly and post-assembly conditions on the water-ion pair interactions of poly(styrene sulfonate)/poly(diallyldimethylammonium) (PSS/PDADMA) PEMs in NaCl and KBr. This is accomplished by developing a methodology in which quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring is applied to estimate the number of water molecules affiliated with an ion pair (i), as well as the hydration coefficient, pi(H2O)(salt). PSS/PDADMA PEMs are assembled in varying ionic strengths of either NaCl and KBr and then exposed post-assembly to increasing ionic strengths of matching salt type. A linear relationship between the total amount of water per intrinsic ion pair and the post-assembly salt concentration was obtained at post-assembly salt concentrations >0.5 M, yielding estimates for both i and pi(H2O)(salt). We observe higher values of i and pi(H2O)(salt) in KBr-assembled PEMs due to KBr being more effective in doping the assembly because of KBr's more chaotropic nature as compared to NaCl. Lastly, when PSS is the terminating layer, i decreases in value due to PSS's hydrophobic nature. Classical and ab initio molecular dynamics provide a microstructural view as to how NaCl and KBr interact with individual polyelectrolytes and the involved water shells. Put together, this study provides further insight into the understanding of existing water microenvironments in PEMs and the effects of both assembly and post-assembly conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-298
Number of pages12
JournalACS Polymers Au
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • polyelectrolyte multilayers
  • swelling
  • quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation
  • layer-by-layer assembly
  • intrinsic ion pairs
  • salts
  • doping
  • SALT


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