The swelling of polyelectrolyte (PE) gels by 1:1 and 2:1 salts is studied via osmotic ensemble Monte Carlo simulations at constant osmotic pressure and electrolyte chemical potential of a reservoir phase in equilibrium with a model PE network. Large molecular weight gels exhibit a remarkable swelling response to small changes in 2:1 salt concentration. Gel collapse is accompanied by the formation of a previously unknown heterogeneous nanostructure, predicted by theory and observed in simulations, consisting of regions dense in monomers coexisting with regions rich in mono- and divalent ions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry