Structure and Hydrogen Bonding of Water in Polyacrylate Gels: Effects of Polymer Hydrophilicity and Water Concentration

Sriramvignesh Mani, Fardin Khabaz, Rutvik V. Godbole, Ronald C. Hedden, Rajesh Khare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ability to tune the hydrophilicity of polyacrylate copolymers by altering their composition makes these materials attractive candidates for membranes used to separate alcohol-water mixtures. The separation behavior of these polyacrylate membranes is governed by a complex interplay of factors such as water and alcohol concentrations, water structure in the membrane, polymer hydrophilicity, and temperature. We use molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the effect of polymer hydrophilicity and water concentration on the structure and dynamics of water molecules in the polymer matrix. Samples of poly(n-butyl acrylate) (PBA), poly(2-hydroxyethyl acrylate) (PHEA), and a 50/50 copolymer of BA and HEA were synthesized in laboratory, and their properties were measured. Model structures of these systems were validated by comparing the simulated values of their volumetric properties with the experimental values. Molecular simulations of polyacrylate gels swollen in water and ethanol mixtures showed that water exhibits very different affinities toward the different (carbonyl, alkoxy, and hydroxyl) functional groups of the polymers. Water molecules are well dispersed in the system at low concentrations and predominantly form hydrogen bonds with the polymer. However, water forms large clusters at high concentrations along with the predominant formation of water-water hydrogen bonds and the acceleration of hydrogen bond dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15381-15393
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Volume119
Issue number49
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 10 2015

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