Molecular simulations of adsorption of surfactant micelles on partially and fully covered iron surfaces

AF Qadikolae and S Sharma, JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR LIQUIDS, 379, 121685 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.molliq.2023.121685

Surfactant - metal interactions are important in applications like corrosion inhibition and synthesis of metallic nanoparticles, wherein surfactants are often added above their critical micelle concentration. Under these conditions, surfactant micelles exist in dynamic equilibrium with free surfactant molecules. Due to their faster diffusion compared to the micelles, free surfactant molecules rapidly adsorb onto metal- water interfaces. Therefore, adsorbing surfactant micelles invariably encounter metal-water inter-faces with some adsorbed surfactants. We have studied, via atomistic simulations, adsorption behavior of micelles of a quaternary ammonium-based surfactant at iron-water interfaces that are partially or fully covered with adsorbed surfactant molecules. We find that on a partially covered surface, a micelle prefers to adsorb on a bare metal patch. On a fully covered surface, the micelle adsorbs on top of already adsorbed molecules and attains a hemispherical morphology. The adsorption free energy decreases as the coverage of iron-water interface with surfactants increases.(c) 2023 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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