Surface Electrostatic Potential and Water Orientation in the presence of Sodium Octanoate Dilute Monolayers Studied by Means of Molecular Dynamics Simulations

2015-10-13T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Kalil Bernardino André F. de Moura
A series of atomistic molecular dynamics simulations were performed in the present investigation to assess the spontaneous formation of surfactant monolayers of sodium octanoate at the water–vacuum interface. The surfactant surface coverage increased until a saturation threshold was achieved, after which any further surfactant addition led to the formation of micellar aggregates within the solution. The saturated films were not densely packed, as might be expected for short-chained surfactants, and all films regardless of the surface coverage presented surfactant molecules with the same ordering pattern, namely, with the ionic heads toward the aqueous solution and the tails lying nearly parallel to the interface. The major contributions to the electrostatic surface potential came from the charged heads and the counterion distribution, which nearly canceled out each other. The balance between the oppositely charged ions rendered the electrostatic contributions from water meaningful, amounting to ca. 10% of the contributions arising from the ionic species. And even the aliphatic tails, whose atoms bear relatively small partial atomic charges as compared to the polar molecules and molecular fragments, contributed with ca. 20% of the total electrostatic surface potential of the systems under investigation. Although the aliphatic tails were not so orderly arranged as in a compact film, the C–H bonds assumed a preferential orientation, leading to an increased contribution to the electrostatic properties of the interface. The most prominent feature arising from the partitioning of the electrostatic potential into individual contributions was the long-range ordering of the water molecules. This ordering of the water molecules produced a repulsive dipole–dipole interaction between the two interfaces, which increased with the surface coverage. Only for a water layer wider than 10 nm was true bulk behavior observed, and the repulsive dipole–dipole interaction faded away.