Molecular dynamics simulation of the forces between colloidal nanoparticles in n -decane solvent

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Molecular dynamics is utilized to simulate solvation forces between two nanoparticles immersed in liquid n -decane. Three types of solvophilic nanoparticles are investigated with sizes in the 1-6 nm range: small and large amorphous spheres and crystalline cubes. We find that the solvation forces are negligible for the small spheres, which have diameters comparable to the end-to-end distance of all-trans decane, and we attribute this to the inability of the small spheres to induce decane ordering in the interparticle gap. The cubic nanoparticles (and to a lesser extent, the large spheres) are able to induce the formation of solidlike, n -decane layers in their gap for certain nanoparticle separations, and the transition between layered and disordered structures leads to solvation forces that oscillate between repulsion and attraction as the nanoparticle separation is varied. We find that the Derjaguin approximation [B. V. Derjaguin, Kolloid-Z. 69, 155 (1934)] is not effective at describing the dependence of the solvation forces on nanoparticle size and shape-contrasting results from a previous study involving these nanoparticles in Lennard-Jones solvent [Y. Qin and K. A. Fichthorn, J. Chem. Phys. 119, 9745 (2003)]. In particular, we find that for decane, the magnitude of the repulsive solvation forces is sensitive to nanoparticle size and shape, a phenomenon we attribute to the size and rigid-rod structure of n -decane, which makes its ordering in the interparticle gap sensitive to the size and the surface roughness of the nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number144911
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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