Journal of the Royal Society Interface;
JUN 24 2020.
Web of Science Citations:
Employing extensive Monte Carlo computer simulations, we investigate in detail the properties of multichain adsorption of charged flexible polyelectrolytes (PEs) onto oppositely charged spherical nanoparticles (SNPs). We quantify the conditions of critical adsorption-the phase-separation curve between the adsorbed and desorbed states of the PEs-as a function of the SNP surface-charge density and the concentration of added salt. We study the degree of fluctuations of the PE-SNP electrostatic binding energy, which we use to quantify the emergence of the phase subtransitions, including a series of partially adsorbed PE configurations. We demonstrate how the phase-separation adsorption-desorption boundary shifts and splits into multiple subtransitions at low-salt conditions, thereby generalizing and extending the results for critical adsorption of a single PE onto the SNP. The current findings are relevant for finite concentrations of PEs around the attracting SNP, such as the conditions for PE adsorption onto globular proteins carrying opposite electric charges. (AU)