Effect of headgroup size, charge, and solvent structure on polymer−micelle interactions, studied by molecular dynamics simulations
Shang, B. Z., Wang, Z. and Larson, R. G. (2009) Effect of headgroup size, charge, and solvent structure on polymer−micelle interactions, studied by molecular dynamics simulations. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 113 (46). pp. 15170-15180. ISSN 1520-6106
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1021/jp9057737
We performed atomistic molecular dynamics simulations of anionic and cationic micelles in the presence of poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) to understand why nonionic water-soluble polymers such as PEO interact strongly with anionic micelles but only weakly with cationic micelles. Our micelles include sodium n-dodecyl sulfate (SDS), n-dodecyl trimethylammonium chloride (DTAC), n-dodecyl ammonium chloride (DAC), and micelles in which we artificially reverse the sign of partial charges in SDS and DTAC. We observe that the polymer interacts hydrophobically with anionic SDS but only weakly with cationic DTAC and DAC, in agreement with experiment. However, the polymer also interacts with the artificial anionic DTAC but fails to interact hydrophobically with the artificial cationic SDS, illustrating that large headgroup size does not explain the weak polymer interaction with cationic micelles. In addition, we observe through simulation that this preference for interaction with anionic micelles still exists in a dipolar "dumbbell" solvent, indicating that water structure and hydrogen bonding alone cannot explain this preferential interaction. Our simulations suggest that direct electrostatic interactions between the micelle and polymer explain the preference for interaction with anionic micelles, even though the polymer overall carries no net charge. This is possible given the asymmetric distribution of negative charges on smaller atoms and positive charges oil larger units in the polymer chain.