Amphiphile Conformation Impacts Aggregate Morphology and Solution Structure Across Multiple Lengthscales

04 August 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Although the self-assembly of amphiphiles is well-studied in aqueous solutions, much less is understood about the fundamental driving forces and structure property relationships in non-polar media. In recent work [Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2020, 124, 10822.] the authors have studied a series of malonomide-based amphiphiles that are relevant to liquid-liquid extraction. That work demonstrated that aggregation is largely driven by local dipole-dipole interactions between molecules. Here, we build upon this observation to develop a more detailed understanding of how the balance of dipole-dipole interactions (controlled by conformation) and molecular architecture influences the morphology of the aggregates across lengthscale. Using constrained molecular dynamics about key degrees of freedom, we demonstrate that the conformation of N,N’-dimethyl,N,N’-dioctylhexylethoxy malonamide (DMDOHEMA) and N,N’-dimethyl,N,N’-dibutyltetradecyl malonamide (DMDBTDMA) has a significant impact upon self-association - where appropriate conformational sampling is essential. To quantify the aggregate morphology, several graph theoretic and persistent homology based properties are determined. The former examines the patterns of intermolecular interactions within clusters, while the latter examines the 3-dimensional spatial distribution across lengthscales. Based upon these analyses, we find that the morphology of aggregates, particularly at higher malonamide concentration, depends on a balance of dipole alignment and alkyl tail sterics. Dipole alignment encourages linear patterns of the intermolecular interactions within aggregates, while the the alkyl tail steric interactions between the malonamide result in noticeably less linear aggregates for DMDOHEMA than DMDBTDMA. This is reflected in the spatial distribution, where more holes or voids exist between extractants within the DMDOHEMA that distribute within the solution in more of a ``swiss cheese" arrangement as opposed to the more filamentous distribution of DMBDTDMA. This study links conformation and molecular structure to the morphology of amphiphile assemblies, and serves as a basis for ongoing study of multicomponent amphiphile solutions with polar and other solutes, and how these impact aggregation phenomena.


solution structure
solvent extraction

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information for: ``Amphiphile Conformation Impacts Aggregate Morphology and Solution Structure Across Multiple Lengthscales''
Relevant probability distributions and correlation functions.


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