Journal of Physical Chemistry B, Vol.114, No.5, 1751-1756, 2010
Intramolecular Structural Change of PAMAM Dendrimers in Aqueous Solutions Revealed by Small-Angle Neutron Scattering
Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments were carried out to investigate the structure of aqueous (D2O) G4 PAMAM dendrimer solutions as a function of molecular protonation and dendrimer concentration. Our results indicate unambiguously that, although the radius of gyration R-G, remains nearly invariant, the dendrimer radial density profile rho(r) decreases in the dendrimer core with a continuous increase in protonation. This discovery also suggests that R-G, which is commonly adopted by numerous simulation and experimental works in describing the global dendrimer size, is not suitable as the index parameter to characterize the dendrimer coil formation change. We also found that R-G and rho(r), for dendrimers dissolved in both neutral and acidified solutions, remain nearly constant over the studied concentration range. We further demonstrate that the outcome of the widely used Guinier method is questionable for extracting R-G in the concentration range studied. Our results reveal the polymer colloid structural duality as benchmarks for future experimental and theoretical studies and provide a critical step toward understanding drug encapsulation by ionic bonds.