Effect of the Hofmeister anions upon the swelling of a self-assembled pH-responsive hydrogel

Joshua M.G. Swann, Wim Bras, Paul Topham, Jonathon R. Howse, Anthony J. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report the effect of a range of monovalent sodium salts on the molecular equilibrium swelling of a simple synthetic microphase separated poly(methyl methacrylate)-block-poly(2-(diethylamino)ethyl methacrylate)-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA88-b-PDEA223-b-PMMA88) pH-responsive hydrogel. Sodium acetate, sodium chloride, sodium bromide, sodium iodide, sodium nitrate and sodium thiocyanate were selected for study at controlled ionic strength and pH; all salts are taken from the Hofmeister series (HS). The influence of the anions on the expansion of the hydrogel was found to follow the reverse order of the classical HS. The expansion ratio of the gel measured in solutions containing the simple sodium halide salts (NaCl, NaBr, and NaI) was found to be strongly related to parameters which describe the interaction of the ion with water; surface charge density, viscosity coefficient, and entropy of hydration. A global study which also included nonspherical ions (NaAce, NaNO3 and NaSCN) showed the strongest correlation with the viscosity coefficient. Our results are interpreted in terms of the Collins model,(1) where larger ions have more mobile water in the first hydration cage immediately surrounding the gel, therefore making them more adhesive to the surface of the stationary phase of the gel and ultimately reducing the level of expansion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10191-10197
Number of pages7
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2010


  • chemistry
  • Hofmeister anions
  • hydrogel


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