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Published November 24, 2023 | Published
Journal Article Open

Charge Asymmetry Suppresses Coarsening Dynamics in Polyelectrolyte Complex Coacervation

  • 1. ROR icon California Institute of Technology


Mixing solutions of oppositely charged macromolecules can result in liquid-liquid phase separation into a polymer-rich coacervate phase and a polymer-poor supernatant phase. Here, we show that charge asymmetry in the constituent polymers can slow down the coarsening dynamics, with an apparent growth exponent that deviates from the well-known 1/3 for neutral systems and decreases with increasing degrees of charge asymmetry. Decreasing solvent quality accelerates the coarsening dynamics for asymmetric mixtures but slows down the coarsening dynamics for symmetric mixtures. We rationalize these results by examining the interaction potential between merging droplets.

Copyright and License

© 2023 American Physical Society.


This research is supported by funding from Hong Kong Quantum AI Lab, AIR@InnoHK of Hong Kong Government. This research used resources of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN), which is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility, at Brookhaven National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-SC0012704. We thank Dr. Andrew Ylitalo for useful discussions.


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Additional details

December 1, 2023
December 1, 2023