Interactions of Na+ Cations with a Highly Charged Fatty Acid Langmuir Monolayer: Molecular Description of the Phase Transition

2019-07-08T13:56:29Z (GMT) by Adrien Sthoer Eric Tyrode
Vibrational sum frequency spectroscopy has been used to study the molecular properties upon compression of a highly charged arachidic acid Langmuir monolayer, which displays a first order phase transition plateau in the surface pressure - molecular area (p-A) isotherm. By targeting vibrational modes from the carboxylic acid headgroup, alkyl chain, and interfacial water molecules, information regarding the surface charge, surface potential, type of ion pair formed, and conformational order of the monolayer could be extracted. The monolayer in the liquid expanded phase is found to be fully charged until reaching the 2D-phase transition plateau, where partial reprotonation, as well as the formation of COO⎺ Na+ contact-ion pairs, start to take place. In the condensed phase after the transition, three headgroup species, mainly hydrated COO⎺, COOH, and COO⎺ Na+ contact-ion pairs could be identified and their proportions quantified. Comparison with theoretical models shows that despite the low ionic strengths used (i.e. 10 mM), the predictions from the Gouy Chapman model are only adequate for the lowest surface densities, when the surface charge does not exceed -0.1 C/m2. In contrast, a modified Poisson-Boltzmann (MPB) model that accounts for the steric effects associated with the finite ion-size, captures many of the experimental observables, including the partial reprotonation, and surface potential changes upon compression. The agreement highlights the importance of hydronium ion – carboxylate interactions, as well as the layer of sodium ions packed at the steric limit, for explaining the phase transition behavior. The MPB model, however, does not explicitly consider the formation of contact ion pairs with the sodium counterion. The experimental results provide a quantitative molecular insight that could be used to test potential extensions to the theory.