We utilize molecular dynamics simulations to probe the surfactant-mediated spreading of a Lennard-Jones liquid droplet on a solid surface. The surfactants are linear hexamers that are insoluble in the liquid and reduce the surface tension of the liquid-vapor interface. We study how the interaction of the surfactant hexamers with the solid substrate influences spreading, as well as the dependence of spreading on surfactant concentration. We find that the spreading speed is strongly influenced by the attraction of the hydrophobic surfactant tail to the solid surface. When this attraction is sufficiently strong, surfactant molecules partition to the liquid-solid interface and facilitate spreading. This partitioning can lead to an inhomogeneous distribution of surfactant over the liquid-vapor interface, which could drive the Marangoni convection. We also observe that the surfactant molecules can assemble into micelles on the solid surface. The repulsion between micelles at the liquid-solid interface can lead to break-off and migration of the micelles from the liquid-solid to the gas-solid interface and spreading is facilitated in this way. Our model system contains features that are believed to underlie superspreading in experimental studies of droplet spreading.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry