Polymer Engineering Faculty Research

Analysis of the phase transitions in alkyl-mica by density and pressure profiles

Hendrik Heinz, The University of Akron


In a previous work [Heinz, Castelijns, and Suter, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 115, 9500 (2003)], we developed an accurate force field and simulated the phase transitions in C18-mica (octadecyltrimethylammonium-mica) as well as the absence of such transitions in 2C18-mica (dioctadecyldimethylammonium-mica) between room temperature and 100 °C. Here we analyze (i) average z coordinates of the carbon atoms and interdigitation of the hydrocarbon bilayers, (ii) density profiles, and (iii) pressure profiles of the structures along all Cartesian axes. In C18-mica, the standard deviation in the z coordinate for the chain atoms is high and more than doubles in the disordered phase. The order–disorder transition is accompanied by a change in the orientation of the ammonium head group, as well as decreasing tensile and shear stress in the disordered phase. In 2C18-mica, the standard deviation in the z coordinate for the chain atoms is low and does not increase remarkably on heating. The backbones display a highly regular structure, which is slightly obscured by rotations in the C18 backbones and minor head group displacements at 100 °C. Close contacts between the bulky head groups with sidearms cause significant local pressure which is in part not relieved at 100 °C. An increase of the basal-plane spacing at higher temperature is found in both systems due to larger separation between the two hydrocarbon layers and an increased z spacing between adjacent chain atoms (=decreased tilt of the chains relative to the surface normal), and, in C18-mica only, a stronger upward orientation of the C18 chain at the ammonium head group. The likelihood for chain interdigitation between the two hydrocarbon layers is 24%–30% for C18-mica, and 65%–26% for 2C18-mica (for 20–100 °C).