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  1. Abstract

    Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM‐D) monitoring is a powerful tool used to sensitively examine the real‐time responses of polymer films to external responses. For example, the technique is commonly used to monitor film growth, material adsorption, thin film swelling, and ion exchange. With its rapidly expanding use, this review is intended to introduce new users to the basic principles of QCM‐D, along with practical challenges and remedies specific to polymer thin films. For both new and experienced users, specific case studies are highlighted including layer‐by‐layer assembly, electrochemical QCM‐D, swelling, sensing, and biological application. Last, the review recommends future directions for research and areas of growth.

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  2. We show by extensive experimental characterization combined with molecular simulations that pH has a major impact on the assembly mechanism and properties of poly( l -lysine) (PLL) and poly( l -glutamic acid) (PGA) complexes. A combination of dynamic light scattering (DLS) and laser Doppler velocimetry (LDV) is used to assess the complexation, charge state, and other physical characteristics of the complexes, isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) is used to examine the complexation thermodynamics, and circular dichroism (CD) is used to extract the polypeptides’ secondary structure. For enhanced analysis and interpretation of the data, analytical ultracentrifugation (AUC) is used to define the precise molecular weights and solution association of the peptides. Molecular dynamics simulations reveal the associated intra- and intermolecular binding changes in terms of intrinsic vs. extrinsic charge compensation, the role of hydrogen bonding, and secondary structure changes, aiding in the interpretation of the experimental data. We combine the data to reveal the pH dependency of PLL/PGA complexation and the associated molecular level mechanisms. This work shows that not only pH provides a means to control complex formation but also that the associated changes in the secondary structure and binding conformation can be systematically used to control materials assembly. This gives access to rational design of peptide materials via pH control. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 12, 2024
  3. null (Ed.)
    Polyelectrolyte complexes (PECs) are highly tunable materials that result from the phase separation that occurs upon mixing oppositely charged polymers. Over the years, they have gained interest due to their broad range of applications such as drug delivery systems, protective coatings, food packaging, and surface adhesives. In this review, we summarize the structure, phase transitions, chain dynamics, and rheological and thermal properties of PECs. Although most literature focuses upon the thermodynamics and application of PECs, this review highlights the fundamental role of salt and water on mechanical and thermal properties impacting the PEC's dynamics. A special focus is placed upon experimental results and techniques. Specifically, the review examines phase behaviour and salt partitioning in PECs, as well as different techniques used to measure diffusion coefficients, relaxation times, various superpositioning principles, glass transitions, and water microenvironments in PECs. This review concludes with future areas of opportunity in fundamental studies and best practices in reporting. 
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  4. Traditional dip-assisted layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly produces robust and conformal coatings, but it is time-consuming. Alternatively, spray-assisted layer-by-layer (SA-LbL) assembly has gained interest due to rapid processing resulting from the short adsorption time. However, it is challenging to assemble anisotropic nanomaterials using this spray-based approach. This is because the standard approach for fabricating “ all-polyelectrolyte ” LbL films does not necessarily give rise to satisfactory film growth when one of the adsorbing components is anisotropic. Here, polymers are combined with a model anisotropic nanomaterial via SA-LbL assembly. Specifically, graphene oxide (GO) is investigated, and the effect of anchor layer, colloidal stability, charge distribution along the carbon framework, and concentration of polymer on the growth and the film quality is examined to gain insight into how to achieve pinhole-free, smooth polymer/GO SA-LbL coatings. This approach might be applicable to other anisotropic nanomaterials such as clays or 2D nanomaterials for future development of uniform coatings by spraying. 
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