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Research Highlight

Polyelectrolyte Star Block Copolymers Enable Stealth Surfactants

Simulations show conformational changes of polyelectrolyte star copolymers at oil-water interface; significant stretching of chains comprising hydrophilic corona into aqueous phase occurs while the hydrophobic core (light blue) remains solubilized in oil phase

Scientific Achievement

Gained a fundamental understanding of the assembly process of polyelectrolyte star block copolymers at incompatible interfaces for the first time.

Significance and Impact

The model enables understanding and prediction of interfacial properties of a general class of charged star block copolymers for applications as stealth surfactants or amphiphiles for chemical transformations and separations.

Research Details

  • Coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations were used
  • Simulations were compared to results from pendant drop tensiometry and vibrational sum frequency generation (SFG) spectroscopy experiments


J.Y. Carrillo, et al., “Assembly of Polyelectrolyte Star Block Copolymers at the Oil-Water Interface,” Nanoscale 15, 1042-1052 (2023).

Work performed at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences and used resources of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility