Fundamentals of Interface and Colloid Science
- J. Lyklema
The (pre)wetting behavior of an annealed polyelectrolyte (PE) brush by an electrolyte solution that is strongly segregated from an apolar phase is analyzed. In this complex interface, there are interactions on various length scales. There are short-range interactions with the (uncharged) surface, and there are interactions on the length scale of the brush height. Using either the ionic strength or the water-surface interaction strength as the control parameters, it is possible to approach and induce a wetting transition in this system. The first-order wetting transition, promoted by favorable short-range substrate interactions with the surface, is in competition with the wetting transition controlled by the detachment of the fluid interface from the periphery of the PE brush. The electric double layer on top of the PE brush contributes with a repulsive forces to the disjoining pressure that tends to thicken the wetting film, and therefore, the transition in all cases is first order. Various phase portraits of the wetting phase diagram are envisioned. One of these features the crossing of two prewetting lines. At the crossing point three surface states coexist. This triple point is analyzed in some detail with the help of a molecular-level self-consistent field model.