Atomistic simulations of Langmuir monolayer collapse

CD Lorenz and A Travesset, LANGMUIR, 22, 10016-10024 (2006).

DOI: 10.1021/la061868r

Monolayers at the vapor/water interface collapse by exploring the third dimension at sufficient lateral compression, either by forming three- dimensional structures or by solubilization into the aqueous solution. In this paper, we provide an atomistic description of collapse from molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. More specifically, we investigate monolayers of arachidic acids spread on pure water and in an aqueous solution with Ca2+ ions in the subphase. In both cases, it is found that the collapsed systems generally lead to the formation of multilayer structures, which in the system with Ca2+ ions, proceeds by an intermediate regime where the monolayer exhibits significant roughness (of the order of 4 angstrom). If no roughness is present, the system forms collapsed structures into the aqueous solution. The computational cost of atomic MD limits our simulations to relatively small system sizes, fast compression rates, and temporal scales on the order of a nanosecond. We discuss the issues caused by these limitations and present a detailed discussion of how the collapse regime proceeds at long time scales. We conclude with a summary of the implications of our results for further theoretical and experimental studies.

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