Surfactant self-assembly in cylindrical pores: insights from mesoscale simulations

Dirk Mueter, Matthias A Widmann, Henry Bock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Motivated by the inconclusive results of three small-angle neutron scattering experiments on nonionic surfactants adsorbed in nanoporous silica, we determine the structure of the surfactant aggregates by computer simulations and provide a deeper understanding of the self-assembly mechanism. The experiments showed that surfactants adsorbed into the nanometer-sized cylindrical pores of SBA-15 self-assemble into aggregates that are far smaller than bulk aggregates. Their morphology has been assumed to depend on the hydrophilicity of the pores. Because of the limited resolution of the scattering experiments, a detailed analysis of the morphological changes was not feasible. Here we show that our mesoscale simulations reproduce the experimental findings and also allow us to study the subtle interplay between aggregation and adsorption. We find that increased adsorption in more hydrophilic pores leads to an increase in the effective area required by the surfactant head groups and consequently to a decrease in aggregate size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2153-2157
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Volume4
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2013

Keywords

  • NONIONIC SURFACTANTS
  • CARBON NANOTUBES
  • FORCES
  • ADSORPTION
  • NANOPORES
  • DYNAMICS
  • SILICA

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