Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Equilibrium Electrostatics of Responsive Polyelectrolyte Monolayers



Rebecca A. Zangmeister, Rastislav Levicky, Kang Wang


The physical behavior of polyelectrolytes at solid-liquid interfaces presents challenges both in measurement and in interpretation. An informative, yet often overlooked, property that characterizes the equilibrium organization of these systems is their membrane or rest potential. Here a general classification scheme is presented of the relationship between the rest potential and structural response of polyelectrolyte films to salt concentration. A numerical lattice theory, adapted from the polymer community, is used to analyze the rest potential response of polyelectrolyte brushes in which electrostatics and short range contact interactions conspire to bring about different structural states. As an experimental quantity the rest potential is a readily accessible, non-perturbing metric of the equilibrium structure of a polyelectrolyte layer. A first set of measurements is reported on monolayers of end-tethered, single-stranded DNA brushes in monovalent (NaCl) and divalent (MgCl2) counterion environments. Intriguingly, in NaCl electrolyte at least two different mechanisms appear by which the DNA layers can structurally relax in response to changing salt conditions. In MgCl2 the layers appear to collapse. The possible molecular mechanisms behind these behaviors are discussed. These studies provide insight into phenomena more generally underlying polyelectrolyte applications in the chemical, environmental, and biotechnological fields.
Journal of the American Chemical Society


DNA, lattice theory, polyelectrolyte, rest potential, solid-liquid interface


Zangmeister, R. , Levicky, R. and Wang, K. (2009), Equilibrium Electrostatics of Responsive Polyelectrolyte Monolayers, Journal of the American Chemical Society (Accessed July 20, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created January 14, 2009, Updated February 19, 2017