Coarse-graining MARTINI model for molecular-dynamics simulations of the wetting properties of graphitic surfaces with non-ionic, long-chain, and T-shaped surfactants

Sergi, Danilo and Scocchi, Giulio and Ortona, Alberto (2012) Coarse-graining MARTINI model for molecular-dynamics simulations of the wetting properties of graphitic surfaces with non-ionic, long-chain, and T-shaped surfactants. The Journal of Chemical Physics, 137 (9). ISSN 0021-9606

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Abstract

We report on a molecular dynamics investigation of the wetting properties of graphitic surfaces by various solutions at concentrations 1-8 wt% of commercially available non-ionic surfactants with long hydrophilic chains, linear or T-shaped. These are surfactants of length up to 160 [ ̊A]. It turns out that molecular dynamics simulations of such systems ask for a number of solvent particles that can be reached without seriously compromising computational efficiency only by employing a coarse-grained model. The MARTINI force field with polarizable water offers a framework particularly suited for the parameterization of our systems. In general,its advantages over other coarse-grained models are the possibility to explore faster long time scales and thewider range of applicability. Although the accuracy is sometimes put under question, the results for the wetting properties by pure water are in good agreement with those for the corresponding atomistic systems and theoretical predictions. On the other hand, the bulk properties of various aqueous surfactant solutions indicate that the micellar formation process is too strong. For this reason, a typical experimental configuration is better approached by preparing the droplets with the surfactants arranged in the initial state in the vicinity of contact line. Cross-comparisons are possible and illuminating, but equilibrium contanct angles as obtained from simulations overestimate the experimental results. Nevertheless, our findings can provide guidelines for the preliminary assessment and screening of surfactants. Most importantly, it is found that the wetting properties mainly depend on the length and apolarity of the hydrophobic tail, for linear surfactants, and the length of the hydrophilic headgroup for T-shaped surfactants. Moreover, the T-shaped topology appears to favor the adsorption of surfactants onto the graphitic surface and faster spreading.

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