Influence of electrolytes on the microenvironment of F127 triblock copolymer micelles: A solvation and rotational dynamics study of coumarin dyes
Dynamic Stokes' shift and fluorescence anisotropy measurements of coumarin 153 (C153) and coumarin 151 (C151) as fluorescence probes have been carried out to understand the influence of electrolytes (NaCl and LiCl) on the hydration behavior of aqueous (ethylene oxide)(100)-(propylene oxide)(70)-(ethylene oxide)(100) (EO100-PO70-EO100, F127) block copolymer micelles. A small blue shift in the fluorescence spectra of C153 has been observed in presence of electrolytes due to the dehydration of the oxyethylene chains in the PEO-PPO region, although fluorescence spectra of C151 remain unaltered. The close vicinity of bulk water for C151 probably negates the effect of dehydration in the PEO region. Fluorescence anisotropy measurements indicate a gradual increase in microviscosity with electrolyte concentrations. The partial collapse of copolymer blocks in the presence of electrolytes has been suggested as a reason for the increase in microviscosity along with the strong hydration of ions in the corona region. The interplay between the ion hydration and the mechanically trapped water content, and specific interaction of ions, such as complexation of Li+ ions with the copolymer block, is found to control solvation dynamics in the corona region. In addition to that, it has been established that Na+ ions reside deep into the corona region whereas Li+ ions prefer to reside closer to the surface. Owing to its higher lyotropicity, LiCl influences the corona hydration to a greater extent than NaCl and sets in micelle-micelle interaction above the 2 M LiCl concentration, as reflected in the saturation of solvation time constants. The formation of larger clusters of F127 micelles above 2 M LiCl has been confirmed by dynamic light scattering measurements; however, such cluster formation is not evident with NaCl.
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