Molecular dynamics simulations of surfactant and nanoparticle self-assembly at liquid-liquid interfaces

Mingxiang Luo, Lenore L. Dai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


We have performed molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to investigate selfassembly at water-trichloroethylene (TCE) interfaces with the emphasis on systems containing modified hydrocarbon nanoparticles (1.2 nm in diameter) and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) surfactants. The nanoparticles and surfactants were first distributed randomly in the water phase. The MD simulations have clearly shown the progress of migration and final equilibrium of the SDS molecules at the water-TCE interfaces with the nanoparticles either at or in the vicinity of the interfaces. One unique feature is the 'attachment' of surfactant molecules to the nanoparticle clusters in the water phase followed by the 'detachment' at the water-TCE interfaces. At low concentrations of surfactants, the surfactants and nanoparticles co-equilibrate at the interfaces. However, the surfactants, at high concentrations, competitively dominate the interfaces and deplete nanoparticles away from the interfaces. The interfacial properties, such as interfacial thickness and interfacial tension, are significantly influenced by the presence of the surfactants, but not the nanoparticles. The order of the surfactants at the interfaces increases with increasing surfactant concentration, but is independent of nanoparticle concentration. Finally, the simulation has shown that surfactants can aggregate along the water-TCE interfaces, with and without the presence of nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number375109
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number37
StatePublished - Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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