Micelle formation in surfactant solutions is a self-assembly process governed by complex interplay of solvent-mediated interactions between hydrophilic and hydrophobic groups, which are commonly called heads and tails. However, the head-tail repulsion is not the only factor affecting the micelle formation. For the first time, we present a systematic study of the effect of chain rigidity on critical micelle concentration and micelle size, which is performed with the dissipative particle dynamics simulation method. Rigidity of the coarse-grained surfactant molecule was controlled by the harmonic bonds set between the second-neighbor beads. Compared to flexible molecules with the nearest-neighbor bonds being the only type of bonded interactions, rigid molecules exhibited a lower critical micelle concentration and formed larger and better-defined micelles. By varying the strength of head-tail repulsion and the chain rigidity, we constructed two-dimensional diagrams presenting how the critical micelle concentration and aggregation number depend on these parameters. We found that the solutions of flexible and rigid molecules that exhibited approximately the same critical micelle concentration could differ substantially in the micelle size and shape depending on the chain rigidity. With the increase of surfactant concentration, primary micelles of more rigid molecules were found less keen to agglomeration and formation of nonspherical aggregates characteristic of flexible molecules.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry