To obtain the radial (normal) and lateral (transverse) components of the local pressure tensor, PN(R) and PT(R), respectively, and the interfacial tension of micelles, molecular dynamics (MD) calculations were performed for spherical sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) micelles. The local pressure tensor was calculated as a function of radial distance R using the Irving-Kirkwood formula. Similar MD calculations were also carried out for an n-dodecane droplet in water to compare the differences in the local pressure and interfacial tension values with those of the micelles. The calculated interfacial tensions were 20 ± 5 and 44 ± 10 mN/m for the SDS micelles and dodecane droplets, respectively. The excess free energies due to the interfacial tension were 340 and 1331 kJ/mol for the SDS micelle and dodecane droplet, respectively. The micelles are stabilized by 991 kJ/mol by covering their hydrophobic cores with hydrophilic groups. The dodecane droplet has a large interfacial tension caused by the zero or positive values of PN(R) − PT(R) at all values of R. In contrast, the small interfacial tension in the SDS micelles comes from the negative PN(R) − PT(R) values over a wide range of R. The pressure difference between the inside and outside of the oil droplet and its interfacial tension well satisfies the Laplace equation. However, the hydrophobic core of the SDS micelle is quite different from the liquid alkane, and the SDS micelles do not follow Laplace’s picture. Decomposing the interfacial tension into contributions from various interactions, it is found that those between charged and polar groups dominate the interfacial tension of the SDS micelles. The positive electrostatic potential (1.3 V) on the micelle surface and the negative potential (−0.15 V) on the oil droplet contribute to the interfacial tensions by 19 and 0.5 mN/m, respectively. Thus, the interfacial tension of the SDS micelles is produced by electrostatic interactions, in contrast to the dodecane droplet.

Supplementary Material

You do not currently have access to this content.