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Structural Transformations, Composition Anomalies and a Dramatic Collapse of Linear Polymer Chains in Dilute Ethanol-Water Mixtures

Banerjee, Saikat and Ghosh, Rikhia and Bagchi, Biman (2012) Structural Transformations, Composition Anomalies and a Dramatic Collapse of Linear Polymer Chains in Dilute Ethanol-Water Mixtures. In: Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 116 (12). pp. 3713-3722.

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Official URL: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jp2085439

Abstract

Water-ethanol mixtures exhibit many interesting anomalies, such as negative excess partial molar volume of ethanol, excess sound absorption coefficient at low concentrations, and positive deviation from Raoult's law for vapor pressure, to mention a few. These anomalies have been attributed to different, often contradictory origins, but a quantitative understanding is still lacking. We show by computer simulation and theoretical analyses that these anomalies arise from the sudden emergence of a bicontinuous phase that occurs at a relatively low ethanol concentration of x(eth) approximate to 0.06-0.10 (that amounts to a volume fraction of 0.17-0.26, which is a significant range!). The bicontinuous phase is formed by aggregation of ethanol molecules, resulting in a weak phase transition whose nature is elucidated. We find that the microheterogeneous structure of the mixture gives rise to a pronounced nonmonotonic composition dependence of local compressibility and nonmonotonic dependence in the peak value of the radial distribution function of ethyl groups. A multidimensional free energy surface of pair association is shown to provide a molecular explanation of the known negative excess partial volume of ethanol in terms of parallel orientation and hence better packing of the ethyl groups in the mixture due to hydrophobic interactions. The energy distribution of the ethanol molecules indicates additional energy decay channels that explain the excess sound attenuation coefficient in aqueous alcohol mixtures. We studied the dependence of the solvation of a linear polymer chain on the composition of the water-ethanol solvent. We find that there is a sudden collapse of the polymer at x(eth) approximate to 0.05-a phenomenon which we attribute to the formation of the microheterogeneous structures in the binary mixture at low ethanol concentrations. Together with recent single molecule pulling experiments, these results provide new insight into the behavior of polymer chain and foreign solutes, such as enzymes, in aqueous binary mixtures.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to American Chemical Society.
Department/Centre: Division of Chemical Sciences > Solid State & Structural Chemistry Unit
Date Deposited: 10 May 2012 10:38
Last Modified: 10 May 2012 10:38
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ernet.in/id/eprint/44387

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