Nonadditive Ion Effects Drive Both Collapse and Swelling of Thermoresponsive Polymers in Water

Ellen E. Bruce, Pho T. Bui, Bradley A. Rogers, Paul S. Cremer, Nico F.A. Van Der Vegt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


When a mixture of two salts in an aqueous solution contains a weakly and a strongly hydrated anion, their combined effect is nonadditive. Herein, we report such nonadditive effects on the lower critical solution temperature (LCST) of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNiPAM) for a fixed concentration of Na2SO4 and an increasing concentration of NaI. Using molecular dynamics simulations and vibrational sum frequency spectroscopy, we demonstrate that at low concentrations of the weakly hydrated anion (I-), the cations (Na+) preferentially partition to the counterion cloud around the strongly hydrated anion (SO42-), leaving I- more hydrated. However, upon further increase in the NaI concentration, this weakly hydrated anion is forced out of solution to the polymer/water interface by sulfate. Thus, the LCST behavior of PNiPAM involves competing roles for ion hydration and polymer-iodide interactions. This concept can be generally applied to mixtures containing both a strongly and a weakly hydrated anion from the Hofmeister series.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6609-6616
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 24 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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