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Charged nanodrops

My research primarily focuses on properties of ion-solvent interactions and macromolecular ion-solvent interactions in liquid droplets, in general, and properties of charged droplets, in particular. My research group uses molecular simulations and analytical methods combined with analysis of experimental data as principal techniques to study the various facets of the vast world of clusters and droplets. The droplets in question are composed of solvent and charge carriers that may be simple ions such as sodium, potassium, macromolecular ions (protonated peptides, charged polyethylene glycol) and complexes of macromolecules such as small interfering RNA (si-RNA) or complexes of proteins, or charged nanoparticles. Highly charged droplets present atypical chemical environment with distinct properties characterized by high ionic concentrations. The questions that we pose are:

  • charging mechanism of the macromolecules;
  • the origin and the manifestations of charge-induced instabilities in droplets;
  • relation to the charge state and conformational states of macromolecules in droplet and gaseous state environment;
  • release of macromolecular ions from droplets;
  • evaporation of droplets;
  • role of acidity in the charge states of proteins;
  • classification of charge-induced instabilities in droplets;
  • charge states and conformational changes in the bulk solution.

    The studies of charged macromolecules in bulk and droplet environments play central role in such diverse subjects such as poly-electrolytes in solution (e.g. DNA); electrospray ionization (ESI) methods and ion-mobility spectroscopy where jets of charged nanodroplets with macromolecules is a critical intermediate state.