We develop an off-lattice (continuum) model to describe the adsorption of neutral polymer chains and polyelectrolytes to surfaces. Our continuum description allows taking excluded volume interactions between polymer chains and ions directly into account. To implement those interactions, we use a modified hard-sphere equation of state, adapted for mixtures of connected beads. Our model is applicable to neutral, charged, and ionizable surfaces and polymer chains alike and accounts for polarizability effects of the adsorbed layer and chemical interactions between polymer chains and the surface. We compare our model predictions to data of a classical system for polymer adsorption: neutral poly(N -vinylpyrrolidone) (PVP) on silica surfaces. The model shows that PVP adsorption on silica is driven by surface hydrogen bonding with an effective maximum binding energy of about 1.3k B T per PVP segment at low pH . As the pH increases, the Si-OH groups become increasingly dissociated, leading to a lower capacity for H bonding and simultaneous counterion accumulation and volume exclusion close to the surface. Together these effects result in a characteristic adsorption isotherm, with the adsorbed amount dropping sharply at a critical pH . Using this model for adsorption data on silica surfaces cleaned by either a piranha solution or an O 2 plasma, we find that the former have a significantly higher density of silanol groups.
|Journal||Physical review E: Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|