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Negatively Charged Lipids Exhibit Negligible Effects on the Water Repellency of Montmorillonite Films

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journal contribution
posted on 15.05.2020, 19:03 by Brenda L. Kessenich, Nihit Pokhrel, Joshua K. Kibue, Markus Flury, Lutz Maibaum, James J. De Yoreo
Amphiphilic molecules can alter the wettability of soil minerals. To determine how the headgroup chemistry of amphiphiles determines these effects, we investigate a system of the clay montmorillonite with long-chain phospholipids. We use phosphatidylglycerol (PG) phospholipids to contrast with our previous work using phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) lipids. Zwitterionic PE lipids can sorb to the negatively charged montmorillonite surface, whereas negatively charged PG lipids cannot. Employing a suite of techniques from molecular dynamics, atomic force microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, and contact angle measurements, we define sample characteristics from molecular-scale structure to the macroscopic wettability. We find that PG lipids do not significantly alter montmorillonite wetting characteristics, such as the contact angle, flow viscosity, and the characteristic time scale for droplet imbibition. On comparing PE and PG lipid/clay films, we find that, among the phospholipids compared, they must have three characteristics to change clay/lipid film wettability: they must bind to the mineral surface, be solid at room temperature, and have a relatively continuous distribution throughout the film.