Modeling Aggregation of Ionic Surfactants Using a Smeared Charge Approximation in Dissipative Particle Dynamics Simulations

Runfang Mao, Ming Tsung Lee, Aleksey Vishnyakov, Alexander V. Neimark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Using dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) simulations, we explore the specifics of micellization in the solutions of anionic and cationic surfactants and their mixtures. Anionic surfactant sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and cationic surfactant cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) are chosen as characteristic examples. Coarse-grained models of the surfactants are constructed and parameterized using a combination of atomistic molecular simulation and infinite dilution activity coefficient calibration. Electrostatic interactions of charged beads are treated using a smeared charge approximation: the surfactant heads and dissociated counterions are modeled as beads with charges distributed around the bead center in an implicit dielectric medium. The proposed models semiquantitatively describe self-assembly in solutions of SDS and CTAB at various surfactant concentrations and molarities of added electrolyte. In particular, the model predicts a decline in the free surfactant concentration with the increase of the total surfactant loading, as well as characteristic aggregation transitions in single-component surfactant solutions caused by the addition of salt. The calculated values of the critical micelle concentration reasonably agree with experimental observations. Modeling of catanionic SDS-CTAB mixtures show consecutive transitions to worm-like micelles and then to vesicles caused by the addition of CTAB to micellar solution of SDS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11673-11683
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


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