Theory of polyampholyte solutions
We consider polyampholyte polymers containing both positive and negative monomers randomly dispersed along the chain. Neutral chains collapse into a globule due to attractive electrostatic interactions. The behavior of the charges inside the globule is similar to that of charges in a small volume of simple electrolyte. A screening length κ−1p coming from the polymeric charge may be defined as in Debye–Hückel theory. The internal structure of the globule is that of close packed blobs of radius equal to the screening length. When salt is added this further screens the interactions and reduces the attractions. The globule begins to increase in size when the concentration of salt becomes larger than the concentration of charge on the polymer itself. Screened Coulomb interactions in a neutral chain behave like a negative contribution to excluded volume. For a chain in a good solvent there is a θ salt concentration at which the net excluded volume becomes zero. Chains are swollen above this concentration of salt, and collapsed below this concentration. For small sections of chain the Coulomb interactions are unscreened and cannot be treated as a modification to excluded volume. Chains with a strong net charge of one sign tend to behave as conventional polyelectrolyte with charges of only one sign. We determine the criterion for the value of the net charge at which the repulsions (polyelectrolyte effect) begin to dominate the attractions (polyampholyte effect). The predictions are found to be in good qualitative agreement with experiments.