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Scientists propose a new model to understand coacervation

Read time: 2 mins

Coacervation is a phenomenon where in two liquids that are mixed together, driven by the difference in the electrostatic charge of the different molecules of the two liquids, separate out into two layers. Until now, Voorn-Overbeek theory, a well known theory that combines two other established theories-namely Flory-Huggins polymer mixing and Debye- Huckel electrostatics, has been used to explain the complex process of coacervation. The theory agreed well with observations, while also remaining simple to use, two factors which led to the wide acceptance it received in the scientific community. However, some researchers have believed that the observational agreements may be a coincidence and does not actually explain coacervation. They believe exclusion of monomer-level charge and volume effects may be the reason for this coincidence and proposed Liquid State (LS) theory to explain coacervation. Now, researchers from Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, University of Massachusetts -Amherst and University of Illinois have backed the LS theory. They ran Monte Carlo simulation, used to model the probability of different outcomes, and concluded that VO theory failed to correctly predict the outcome, while LS theory succeeded. The study provides a guideline in studying complex liquid phenomenon and shows the importance of considering molecular level charge structure in determining various liquid phase phenomenon, including coacervation. Moreover, the study, once again, showed the importance of verification and peer review of scientific results, for accuracy of our research.