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Reversible and Irreversible Adsorption Energetics of Poly(ethylene glycol) and Sorbitan Poly(ethoxylate) at a Water/Alkane Interface

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journal contribution
posted on 14.07.2015, 00:00 by Kyle J. Huston, Ronald G. Larson
We simulate poly­(ethylene glycol) (PEG) oligomers and model Tween 80 (polyoxyethylene sorbitan monooleate) molecules at water/alkane interfaces. Using the weighted histogram analysis method (WHAM), including an extension of WHAM to two reaction coordinates to remove hysteresis, we calculate interfacial potentials of mean force (PMFs) for PEG and Tween 80 using three force fields: the atomistic GROMOS 53a6OXY+D and two coarse-grained (CG) MARTINI force fields. Because the force fields have not yet been validated for PEO adsorption to hydrophobic interfaces, we calculate PMFs for alcohol ethoxylates C12E2 and C12E8 and find that they agree with semiempirical results of Mulqueen and Blankschtein [Langmuir 2002, 18 (2), 365–376] for the GROMOS 53a6OXY+D force field, whereas for both MARTINI force fields, PEO adsorbs too weakly to a clean hydrophobic interface. One MARTINI force field incorrectly shows depletion rather than adsorption to a clean hydrophobic interface. We find that the adsorption free energy for PEG oligomers at a clean, planar water/alkane interface is around 1.3 kBT per monomer for the atomistic force field but is less than half of this for the two CG force fields. With the newly validated GROMOS 53a6OXY+D force field, we bracket the dilute adsorption free energy for a model Tween 80 molecule at the clean water/squalane interface. We also calculate the pressure–area isotherm. We exploit these data with the Nikas–Mulqueen–Blankschtein (NMB) theory and a simple transport model to demonstrate a transition from irreversible to reversible adsorption with increasing surface coverage, consistent with experimental results of Reichert and Walker [Langmuir 2013, 29 (6), 1857–1867].