Particle Diffusion in Polymeric Hydrogels with Mixed Attractive and Repulsive Interactions

Johann Hansing, Joseph R. Duke, Emily B. Fryman, Jason E. Derouchey, Roland R. Netz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


All biogels are heterogeneous, consisting of functional groups with different biophysical properties arrayed on spatially disordered polymer networks. Nanoparticles diffusing in such biogels experience a mixture of attractive and repulsive interactions. Here, we present experimental and theoretical studies of charged particle diffusion in gels with a random distribution of attractive and repulsive electrostatic interaction sites inside the gel. In addition to interaction disorder, we theoretically investigate the effect of spatial disorder of the polymer network. Our coarse-grained simulations reveal that attractive interactions primarily determine the diffusive behavior of the particles in systems with mixed attractive and repulsive interactions. As a consequence, charged particles of either sign are immobilized in mixed cationic/anionic gels because they are trapped near oppositely charged interaction sites, whereas neutral particles diffuse rapidly. Even small fractions of oppositely charged interaction sites lead to strong trapping of a charged particle. Translational diffusion coefficients of charged probe molecules in gels consisting of mixed cationic and anionic dextran polymers are determined by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy and quantitatively confirm our theoretical predictions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5248-5256
Number of pages9
JournalNano Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 8 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2018 American Chemical Society.


  • Diffusion
  • Langevin simulations
  • biological barriers
  • hydrogels
  • mucus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Particle Diffusion in Polymeric Hydrogels with Mixed Attractive and Repulsive Interactions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this