• counterion;
  • ornstein-zernike equation;
  • polyamidoamine dendrimers;
  • small angle neutron scattering


Our previous study of the structure change of poly(amidoamine) starburst dendrimers (PAMAM) dendrimer of generation 5 (G5) have demonstrated that although the overall molecular size is practically unaffected by increasing DCl concentration, a configurational transformation, from a diffusive density profile to a more uniform density distribution, is clearly observed. In the current paper, the focus is placed on understanding the effect of counterion identity on the inter-molecular structure and the conformational properties by studying the effect due to DBr using small angle neutron scattering (SANS) and integral equation theory. While the overall molecular size is found to be essentially unaffected by the change in the pD of solutions, it is surprising that the intra-molecular configurational transformation is not observed when DBr is used. The overall effective charge of a dendrimer is nearly the same for α < 1, independent of the type of acids. However, when α > 1, the effect of counterion identity becomes significant, the effective charge carried by a charged G5 PAPAM protonated by DBr becomes smaller than that of solutions with DCl. As a consequence, a counterion identity dependence of counterion association is revealed: Under the same level of molecular protonation, the specific counterion association, which is defined as the ratio of bound chloride anions to positively charged amines per molecule, is larger for the G5 PAMAM dendrimer charged by DBr than the one by DCl.