Oppositely charged polyelectrolytes. Complex formation and effects of chain asymmetry
The formation of complexes in solutions of oppositely charged polyions has been studied by Monte Carlo simulations. The amount as well as the length, and thus, the absolute charge of one of the polyions have been varied. There is an increasing tendency to form large clusters as the excess of one kind of polyion decreases. When all polyions have the same length, this tendency reaches a maximum near, but off, equivalent amounts of the two types of polyions. When one kind of polyion is made shorter, the propensity to form large clusters decreases and the fluctuations in cluster charge increases. Simple free-energy expressions have been formulated on the basis of a set of simple rules that help rationalize the observations. By calculating cluster distributions in both grand canonical and canonical ensembles, it has been possible to show the extent of finite-size effects in the simulations.
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