Experimental and molecular dynamics characterization of dense micro emulsion systems morphology, conductivity and SAXS

E. Negro, R. Latsuzbaia, A. H. de Vries, G. J. M. Koper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Microemulsions are exciting systems that are promising as tuneable self-assembling templating reaction vessels at the nanoscale. Determination of the nano-structure of microemulsions is, however, not trivial, and there are fundamental questions regarding their design. We were able to reproduce experimental data for an important microemulsion system, sodium-AOT-n-heptane-water, using coarse-grained simulations involving relatively limited computational costs. The simulation allows visualization and deeper investigation of controversial phenomena such as bicontinuity and ion mobility. Simulations were performed using the Martini coarse-grained force field. AOT bonded parameters were fine-tuned by matching the geometry obtained from atomistic simulations. We investigated several compositions with a constant ratio of surfactant to oil while the water content was varied from 10 to 60% in weight. From mean square displacement calculation of all species, it was possible to quantify caging effects and ion mobility. Average diffusion coefficients were calculated for all charged species and trends in the diffusion coefficients were used to rationalize experimental conductivity data. Especially, the diffusion coefficient of charged species qualitatively matched the variation in conductivity as a function of water content. The scattering function was calculated for the hydrophilic species and up to 40% water content quantitatively matched the experimental data obtained from small angle X-ray scattering measurements. For higher water contents, discrepancies were observed and attributed to a nearby phase separation. In particular, bicontinuity of water and oil was computationally visualized by plotting the coordinates of hydrophilic beads. Equilibrated coarse-grained simulations were reversed to atomistic models in order both to compare ion mobility and to catch finer simulation details. Especially, it was possible to capture the intimate ion pair interaction between the sodium ion and the surfactant head group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8685-8697
Number of pages13
JournalSoft Matter
Volume10
Issue number43
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • COARSE-GRAINED MODEL
  • AOT REVERSE MICELLES
  • MARTINI FORCE-FIELD
  • BICONTINUOUS MICROEMULSIONS
  • ELECTRICAL-CONDUCTIVITY
  • MESOSTRUCTURED FLUIDS
  • LAMELLAR STRUCTURES
  • HIGH-YIELD
  • SIMULATIONS
  • WATER

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