The long-lasting stability of nanoparticle (NP) suspensions in aqueous solution is one of the main challenges in colloidal science. The addition of surfactants is generally adopted to increase the free energy barrier between NPs and hence to ensure a more stable condition avoiding the NP sedimentation. However, a tailored prediction of surfactant concentration enabling a good dispersion of NPs is still an ambitious objective. Here, we demonstrate the efficiency of coupling steered molecular dynamics (SMD) with the Langmuir theory of adsorption in the low surfactant concentration regime, to predict the adsorption isotherm of sodium-dodecyl-sulfate (SDS) on bare α-alumina NPs suspended in aqueous solution. The resulting adsorption free energy landscapes (FELs) are also investigated by tuning the percentage of SDS molecules coating the target bare NP. Our findings shed light on the competing role of enthalpic and entropic interaction contributions. On one hand, the adsorption is highly promoted by the tail–NP and tail–tail nonbonded interaction adhesion; on the other hand, our results unveil the entropic nature of water and surfactant steric effects occurring at the NP surface and preventing the adsorption. Finally, a thorough analysis on the steering works emphasizes the role of the NP curvature in the FEL of adsorption. In particular, we show that, moving from a solid infinite flat surface to a nanoscale particle, a deviation from a Markovian dynamics of adsorption occurs in close proximity to a curved solid–liquid interface. Here, both the NP curvature effect and nanoscale morphology promote a modification of the thermodynamics state of adsorption with a consequent splitting of the free energy profiles and the identification of specific sites of adsorption. The modeling framework suggested in this Article provides physical insights in the surfactant adsorption onto spherical NPs and suggests some guidelines to rationally design stable NP suspensions in aqueous solutions.
|Titolo:||Exploring the Free Energy Landscape To Predict the Surfactant Adsorption Isotherm at the Nanoparticle–Water Interface|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2019|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1021/acscentsci.9b00773|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|