Polymer Engineering Faculty Research

Solution viscosity behavior of complexes of poly(γ-benzyl-L-glutamate) with lightly sulfonated polystyrene or its zinc salt

L. Shao
Robert Weiss, The University of Akron
R. D. Lundberg


The rheological behavior of solutions containing blends of poly(γ-benzyl-l-glutamate) (PBLG) and either the free acid or the zinc salt of lightly sulfonated polystyrene (SPS) was studied as a function of blend composition, polymer concentration, degree of sulfonation of the SPS, and the polypeptide molecular weight. The zinc salt of SPS formed a transition metal complex with the amine-end groups of the PBLG, and this resulted in an enhancement of the solution viscosity relative to a weighted average of the viscosities of the individual polymer solutions. The ZnSPS/PBLG solutions showed no anomalous time or shear dependencies. In contrast, solutions containing PBLG and the sulfonic acid derivative of SPS also had enhanced viscosities, but in addition, they exhibited time-dependent viscosities (thixotropic behavior) and shear thickening (dilatant behavior). This was attributed to a nonequilibrium structure of the interpolymer complex due to a competition between acid-amine and acid-ester interactions. Although the acid-amine interaction is enthalpically favored, when sufficient sulfonic acid groups were available, interactions between the sulfonic acid and the glutamate ester side groups of PBLG developed and this interaction promotes a helix-to-coil transition of the PBLG.