The interaction between rhodamine 6G and different polyelectrolytes is analyzed. Structural aspects differentiate these polyelectrolytes, such as the presence of aromatic groups and the number and localization of their respective charges, which may be directly attached to the aromatic groups or to the polymeric main chain. In the case of poly(sodium acrylate), which does not bear aromatic groups, the polyelectrolyte induces cooperative self-stacking between the dyes which is highly sensitive to the ionic strength, due to the predominance of long-range electrostatic interactions between the polymer and the dye. In the case of poly(sodium 4-styrenesulfonate), whose charge is directly attached to the aromatic groups, a high dispersant ability of the dyes is found and the interaction is less dependent on the ionic strength, due to the predominance of short-range aromatic-aromatic interactions between the dye and the polymer. Among the two polyelectrolytes studied for which the polymeric charge is directly attached to the main chain, and separated from the aromatic group, poly(styrene-alt-maleic acid) shows a lower dependence of the interaction on the ionic strength than poly(N-phenylmaleimide-co-acrylic acid) at a comonomer composition of 1:2, due to a higher linear aromatic density and a lower linear charge density, indicating the importance of hydrophobic forces. Both copolymers exhibit a high ability to induce cooperative self-aggregation of the dye.
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