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Quantitative Prediction of the Structure and Viscosity of Aqueous Micellar Solutions of Ionic Surfactants: A Combined Approach Based on Coarse-Grained MARTINI Simulations Followed by Reverse-Mapped All-Atom Molecular Dynamics Simulations

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journal contribution
posted on 23.04.2020, 12:37 by Stavros D. Peroukidis, Dimitrios G. Tsalikis, Massimo G. Noro, Ian P. Stott, Vlasis G. Mavrantzas
We address the problem of the quantitative prediction of micelle formation in dilute aqueous solutions of ionic surfactants using sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) as a model system through a computational approach that involves three steps: (a) execution of coarse-grained simulations based on the MARTINI force field (with slightly modified parameters to afford the formation of large micelles); (b) reverse mapping of the final self-assembled coarse-grained configuration into an all-atom configuration; and (c) final relaxation of this all-atom configuration through short-time (on the order of a few tens of nanoseconds), detailed isothermal–isobaric molecular dynamics simulations using the CHARMM36 force field. For a given concentration of the solution in SDS molecules, the modified MARTINI-based coarse-grained simulations lead to the formation of large micelles characterized by mean aggregation numbers above the experimentally observed ones. However, by reintroducing the detailed chemical structure through a strategy that solves a well-defined geometric problem and re-equilibrating, these large micellar aggregates quickly dissolve to smaller ones and equilibrate to sizes that perfectly match the average micelle size measured experimentally at the given surfactant concentration. From the all-atom molecular dynamics simulations, we also deduce the surfactant diffusivity DSDS and the zero-shear rate viscosity, η0, of the solution, which are observed to compare very favorably with the few experimental values that we were able to find in the literature.