Self-Assembly in Branched and Charged PolymersProf. Galen Pickett, Department of Physics
Polymers are long-chain molecules which, when gathered together into dense clusters, produce materials of remarkable properties and stuctures dominated essentially by packing (no two chain segments can overlap) and the proliferation of internal degrees of freedom (allowing each chain to adopt many, many different conformations). When the chains are regularly branched, these packing and configurational effects are greatly enhanced. Adding electric charges to the polymers introduces long-ranged interactions. The balance between short and long-ranged forces in these systems gives rise to structures involving many chains on a mesoscopic length scale (much larger than individual polymer segments, but still macroscopically small).