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Structural characterization of interfacial n-octanol and 3-octanol using molecular dynamic simulations.

  • Napoleon, Raeanne L
  • Moore, Preston B
Published Article
The Journal of Physical Chemistry B
American Chemical Society
Publication Date
Mar 02, 2006
PMID: 16494422


Structurally isomeric octanol interfacial systems, water/vapor, 3-octanol/vapor, n-octanol/vapor, 3-octanol/water, and n-octanol/water are investigated at 298 K using molecular dynamics simulation techniques. The present study is intended to investigate strongly associated liquid/liquid interfaces and probe the atomistic structure of these interfaces. The octanol and water molecules were initially placed randomly into a box and were equilibrated using constant pressure techniques to minimize bias within the initial conditions as well as to fully sample the structural conformations of the interface. An interface formed via phase separation during equilibration and resulted in a slab geometry with a molecularly sharp interface. However, some water molecules remained within the octanol phase with a mole fraction of 0.12 after equilibration. The resulting "wet" octanol interfaces were analyzed using density profiles and orientational order parameters. Our results support the hypothesis of an ordered interface only 1 or 2 molecular layers deep before bulk properties are reached for both the 3-octanol and water systems. However, in contrast to most other interfacial systems studied by molecular dynamics simulations, the n-octanol interface extends for several molecular layers. The octanol hydroxyl groups form a hydrogen-bonding network with water which orders the surface molecules toward a preferred direction and produces a hydrophilic/hydrophobic layering. The ordered n-octanol produces an oscillating low-high density of oxygen atoms out of phase with a high-low density of carbon atoms, consistent with an oscillating dielectric. In contrast, the isomeric 3-octanol has only a single carbon-rich layer directly proximal to the interface, which is a result of the different molecular topology. Both 3-octanol and n-octanol roughen the water interface with respect to the water/vapor interface. The "wet" octanol phases, in the octanol/water systems reach bulk properties in a shorter distance than the "dry" octanol/vapor interfaces.

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