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Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering >> 2022, Volume 16, Issue 6 doi: 10.1007/s11705-021-2121-3

Molecular diffusion in ternary poly(vinyl alcohol) solutions

Available online: 2021-12-27

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The diffusion kinetics of a molecular probe—rhodamine B—in ternary aqueous solutions containing poly(vinyl alcohol), glycerol, and surfactants was investigated using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy and dynamic light scattering. We show that the diffusion characteristics of rhodamine B in such complex systems is determined by a synergistic effect of molecular crowding and intermolecular interactions between chemical species. The presence of glycerol has no noticeable impact on rhodamine B diffusion at low concentration, but significantly slows down the diffusion of rhodamine B above 3.9% (w/v) due to a dominating steric inhibition effect. Furthermore, introducing surfactants (cationic/nonionic/anionic) to the system results in a decreased diffusion coefficient of the molecular probe. In solutions containing nonionic surfactant, this can be explained by an increased crowding effect. For ternary poly(vinyl alcohol) solutions containing cationic or anionic surfactant, surfactant–polymer and surfactant–rhodamine B interactions alongside the crowding effect of the molecules slow down the overall diffusivity of rhodamine B. The results advance our insight of molecular migration in a broad range of industrial complex formulations that incorporate multiple compounds, and highlight the importance of selecting the appropriate additives and surfactants in formulated products.

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