March 29, 2016
Nanoparticles are used in a wide range of applications, including targeted drug delivery, biosensing, imaging, and catalysis. When they are paired in solutions with surfactants— chemical compounds that determine surface tension—they are even able to form stable suspensions that can trap light. Once honed, this technique could be used to harvest energy from the sun.
This is the focus of recently published research by Ph.D. candidate Abhinanden Sambasivam, former post-doctoral researcher Dr. Ashish Sangria ‘11 of Intel, and Professor Radhakrishna Sureshkumar titled, “Self-Assembly of Nanoparticle−Surfactant Complexes with Rodlike Micelles.” Their study appears as the cover story of the March 1 issue of Langmuir , a notable American Chemical Society publication. Within, they detail nanoscale simulations and experimentation.
The image featured on the cover depicts a molecular representation of self-assembly in nanoparticle-surfactant solutions. In the team’s research, they explore the mechanism that causes this process for the first time in molecular dynamics simulations.
Sureshkumar and fellow researchers further used molecular simulations to provide a quantitative description of the shear-induced movement, orientation, stretching, and scission of rodlike surfactant micelles in “Dynamics and scission of rodlike cationic surfactant micelles in shear flow.” They also extend this methodology to solutions that contain multiple micelles and nanoparticles for studying emerging morphologies, flow-structure interactions and rheological properties in “Topology, Length Scales and Energetics of Surfactant Micelles” and “Uniaxial Extension of Surfactant Micelles: Counterion Mediated Chain Stiffening and a Mechanism of Rupture by Flow-Induced Energy Redistribution.”