A combined quasi-elastic neutron scattering (QENS) and high-resolution solution NMR spectroscopy study was conducted to investigate the internal dynamics of aqueous (D2O) G5 PAMAM dendrimer solutions as a function of molecular protonation at room temperature. Localized motion of the dendrimer segments was clearly exhibited in the QENS data analysis while the global, center-of-mass translational diffusion was measured by NMR. Our results unambiguously demonstrate an increased rapidity in local scale ([similar] 3 A) motion upon increasing the molecular protonation. This is contrary to an intuitive picture that increased charge stiffens the dendrimer segments thereby inhibiting local motion. These charge-induced changes may be a result of interactions with the surrounding counterions and water molecules as the segments explore additional intra-dendrimer volume made available by slight electrostatic swelling and redistribution of mass in the dendrimer interior. This observation is relevant to development of a microscopic picture of dendrimer-based packages as guest-molecule delivery vehicles because reorganization of the confining dendrimer segments must be a precursor to guest-molecule release.
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