Surfactant Binding to Polymer-Water Interfaces in Atomistic Simulations

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Attractive interactions between additive molecules and particle surfaces are key parameters in the design of waterborne suspensions and coatings. We use atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to determine the potential of mean force for a commonly used industrial surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) interacting with acrylate latex particles. We investigate how the potential of mean force and binding free energy depend on the amount of SDS adsorbed, solution ionic strength, and presence of other charged groups on the particle surface. We show that the potential of mean force for SDS is a sum of two independent terms, from the hydrophobic surfactant tail and charged headgroup: dragging the surfactant tail into solution contributes a linear potential of about kT per CH2 group, while the headgroup is repelled by like charges on the surface with a potential of about the zeta potential. Commercial acrylate latex particles also bear multivalent charged "hairs" as a remnant of their synthesis. These charged hairs result in a heterogeneously charged surface, for which SDS binds more or less strongly depending on the local environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7519-7529
Number of pages11
Issue number30
StatePublished - Aug 2 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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