A multiscale model for kinetics of formation and disintegration of spherical micelles

Gunjan Mohan and Dmitry I. Kopelevich, A multiscale model for kinetics of formation and disintegration of spherical micelles
J. Chem. Phys. 128, 044905 , 2008-01-25

Abstract [-]: Dynamics of self-assembly and structural transitions in surfactant systems often involve a large span of length and time scales. A comprehensive understanding of these processes requires development of models connecting phenomena taking place on different scales. In this paper, we develop a multiscale model for formation and disintegration of spherical nonionic micelles. The study is performed under the assumption that the dominant mechanism of micelle formation disintegration is a stepwise addition removal of single monomers to from a surfactant aggregate. Different scales of these processes are investigated using a combination of coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, analytical and numerical solution of stochastic differential equations, and a numerical solution of kinetic equations. The removal of a surfactant from an aggregate is modeled by a Langevin equation for a single reaction coordinate, the distance between the centers of mass of the surfactant and the aggregate, with parameters obtained from a series of constrained molecular dynamics simulations. We demonstrate that the reverse process of addition of a surfactant molecule to an aggregate involves at least two additional degrees of freedom, orientation of the surfactant molecule and micellar microstructure. These additional degrees of freedom play an active role in the monomer addition process and neglecting their contribution leads to qualitative discrepancies in predicted surfactant addition rates. We propose a stochastic model for the monomer addition which takes the two additional degrees of freedom into account and extracts the model parameters from molecular dynamics simulations. The surfactant addition rates are determined from Brownian dynamics simulations of this model. The obtained addition and removal rates are then incorporated into the kinetic model of micellar formation and disintegration.