Electrolytic conductivity behavior of some cationic polysaccharides in water, methanol, and the mixtures water/methanol is presented. The polyelectrolytes investigated contain quaternary ammonium salt groups, N-alkyl-N,N-dimethyl-2-hydroxypropyleneammonium chloride, attached to a dextran backbone. This study considers the influences of polymer concentration (1 × 10−6 < C < 1 × 10−2 monomol L−1) and the charge density (ξ = 0.48–3.17) modified either by changing charge distance (b) or dielectric constant of the solvent (ε) on polyion–counterion interaction in salt-free solutions. Above the critical value, ξc = 1, the variation of the equivalent conductivity (Λ) as a function of concentration is typical for a polyelectrolyte behavior. The conductometric data in water were analyzed in terms of the Manning's counterion condensation theory. The presence of longer alkyl chains at quaternary N atoms was found to have a negligible influence on the Λ values. The results show that the decrease of the medium polarity results in the decrease of the number of free ions and, consequently, of the equivalent conductivity values. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 43: 3584–3590, 2005
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