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Bulk and surface properties and nanocomplexes of macromolecules and surfactants

Final Activity Report Summary - BSMS-NANOCOMPLEXES (Bulk and Surface Properties and Nanocomplexes of Macromolecules and Surfactants)

The study of the effects of charge density and molecular architecture of polymers on their interactions with oppositely charged surfactants revealed the specific role of the branched nature of the polyelectrolyte in the mechanism of surfactant binding. These investigations also resulted in new routes of fabrication and characterisation of novel types of stable polyelectrolyte / surfactant nanoparticles. The other objective of the research was to explore the effect of polymer molecular weight on the macromolecule / surfactant interaction. A unique structure of polymer / surfactant aggregates in the low and middle molecular weight range of the macromolecules was demonstrated for the first time. Therefore, these results can be considered as significant seps in the understanding of the internal structure of polymer / surfactant nanocomplexes.

The generated knowledge can be used to design novel nanocomplexes of macromolecules and surfactants with tailored structure and properties. Relying on the industrial links of the researcher it can be expected that these results can initiate novel industrial applications of low and middle molecular weight polymers as well as polymer/surfactant mixtures with decreased contents of expensive and environmentally unfriendly ionic surfactants.

In addition to the main objectives, new research lines also emerged during the grant period. These include the development of a novel surfactant selective electrode, the fabrication of a new cell for dynamic surface tension and interfacial rheology measurements as well as a pioneering study of the role of isotope effect in the oppositely charged weak polyelectrolyte / surfactant systems. Last but not least, the researcher was able to incorporate the generated new results into the training system of the host institution via developing a new seminar and special laboratory exercises.

The achievements of the project played a crucial role in the researcher visualisations appointment until 2007 in the host institution and they can pave the way for his successful reintegration in Hungary as well as for a permanent position in the host institution.