Molecular modeling of polymer-clay nanocomposite precursors: Lysine in montmorillonite interlayers

Alicia M. Davis, Gary Joanis, Lorena Tribe

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4 Scopus citations


The layered structure of clays with interlayer cations leads to unique chemical and mechanical properties, which have been capitalized on in the field of polymer/layered silicate nanocomposites. Hydrophilic silica surfaces can become organophilic with the inclusion of alkylammonium cations, which improve the wetting characteristics of the polymer matrix. In fact, the molecular level interactions of amino acids, either natural or non-natural, with clay surfaces are at the heart of fields of study as diverse as nanocomposites fabrication, drug delivery, bio-remediation of soils and catalysis of biological polymers, to name a few. The ubiquity of these systems and the potential uses to which they could be put suggests the necessity of a deeper understanding of the interplay of bonds, conformations, and configurations between the molecules and the hosts. The interactions of the amino acid lysine with sodium montmorillonite were studied using theoretical molecular modeling methods. The interlayer spacing of montmorillonite was increased by incorporating water molecules and allowing the system to evolve with molecular mechanics. Care was taken to retain the sodium cations in the interlayer. The initial amino acid conformation was obtained surrounding the molecule with numerous discrete water molecules and minimizing the system at the semi empirical level. The optimized amino acid was then placed in the interlayer space in a series of initial positions. Molecular mechanics calculations were performed and the final positions were analyzed. The results tended to indicate the preponderance of configurations which included surface-sodium-amino acid complexes with a variety of spatial arrangements. These results were compared with molecular dynamics calculations of similar systems from the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-987
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Computational Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 30 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Computational Mathematics


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