Glycerol Monooleate Reverse Micelles in Nonpolar Solvents: Computer Simulations and Small-Angle Neutron Scattering

JL Bradley-Shaw and PJ Camp and PJ Dowding and K Lewtas, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B, 119, 4321-4331 (2015).

DOI: 10.1021/acsjpcb.sb00213

The formation of glycerol monooleate reverse micelles in n-heptane and toluene at room temperature is studied using molecular-dynamics simulations and small-angle neutron scattering. The glycerol monooleate concentrations under consideration are in the range of 5-20 wt %. Under these conditions, spontaneous reverse-micelle formation is observed on the simulation timescale (up to 30 ns). From simulations, the typical dimensions (semiaxes) of the equivalent ellipsoids with the same masses and moments of inertia are in the range of 15-23 angstrom, with instantaneous shapes that are slightly nonspherical. By analyzing the scattering form factors from simulation and experiment, the radii of gyration of the reverse micelles are determined to be approximately 15 angstrom. The number of glycerol monooleate molecules in a reverse micelle is smaller in toluene (similar to 20) than in n-heptane (similar to 30), but the overall dimensions are similar due to greater penetration of the toluene in to the reverse micelle. The effects of low concentrations (1 wt %) of water, acetic acid, and ethanol on the reverse-micelle dimensions are determined. The overall structural effects are small, but the distributions of the molecules within the reverse micelles are shown to be sensitive to the molecular polarity.

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