ETP Chemicals

Polyelectrolytes are polymers whose repeating units bear an electrolyte group. Polycations and polyanions are polyelectrolytes. These groups dissociate in aqueous solutions (water), making the polymers charged. Polyelectrolyte properties are thus similar to both electrolytes (salts) and polymers (high molecular weight compounds) and are sometimes called polysalts. Like salts, their solutions are electrically conductive. Like polymers, their solutions are often viscous. Charged molecular chains, commonly present in soft matter systems, play a fundamental role in determining structure, stability and the interactions of various molecular assemblies through Theoretical approaches to describing their statistical properties differ profoundly from those of their electrically neutral counterparts, while technological and industrial fields exploit their unique properties. Many biological molecules are polyelectrolytes. For instance, polypeptides, glycosaminoglycans, and DNA are polyelectrolytes. Both natural and synthetic polyelectrolytes are used in a variety of industries.

Polyelectrolytes that bear both cationic and anionic repeat groups are called polyampholytes. The competition between the acid-base equilibria of these groups leads to additional complications in their physical behavior. These polymers usually only dissolve when there is sufficient added salt, which screens the interactions between oppositely charged segments. In case of amphoteric macroporous hydrogels action of concentrated salt solution does not lead to dissolution of polyampholyte material due to covalent cross-linking of macromolecules. Synthetic 3-D macroporous hydrogels shows the excellent ability to adsorb heavy-metal ions in a wide range of pH from extremely diluted aqueous solutions, which can be later used as an adsorbent for purification of salty water. All proteins are polyampholytes, as some amino acids tend to be acidic, while others are basic.

Design by info-net