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Biomacromolecules. 2003 Jul-Aug;4(4):1080-6.

Systematic of alcohol-induced simple coacervation in aqueous gelatin solutions.

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  • 1School of Physical Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110016, India.


Turbidity measurements performed at 450 nm were used to follow the process of simple coacervation when 1% (w/v) aqueous alkali processed gelatin (type-B) solutions were titrated with methanol, ethanol, propanol, and tert-butyl alcohol at various pHs of the solution ranging from pH = 5 to 8 and ionic strengths varying from I = 0.01 to 0.1 M NaCl. The titration profiles clearly established the transition points in terms of the percentage of volume of alcohol added relative to that of solvent corresponding to the first occurrence of turbidity (Vt) and a point of turbidity maximum (Vp). Addition of more alcohol drove the system toward precipitation. The values of Vt and Vp characterized the initiation of intramolecular folding and intermolecular aggregate formation of the charge neutralized gelatin molecules and the subsequent micro coacervate droplet formation. The state of intermolecular aggregates and that of folded gelatin molecules could be characterized by dynamic laser light scattering experiments, which implied spontaneous segregation of particle sizes preceding coacervation. The aggregates constitute the coacervate phase while the folded gelatin molecules mostly stay dispersed in the supernatant. The data taken together reveal the role played by solution entropy in addition to that of electrostatic and solute-solvent interactions, which had been overlooked hitherto.

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