Stability of Janus nanoparticles at fluid interfaces

Cheung, David and Bon, Stefan A.F. (2009) Stability of Janus nanoparticles at fluid interfaces. Soft Matter, 5 (20). pp. 3969-3976. ISSN 1744-6848

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    Abstract

    Using Monte Carlo simulations the interaction of a nanometre-sized, spherical Janus particle (a particle with two distinct surface regions of different functionality, in this case showing amphiphilic behaviour) with an ideal fluid interface is studied. In common with previous simulations of spherical, isotropic particles, the range of the nanoparticle -interface interaction is significantly larger than the nanoparticle radius due to the broadening of the interface due to capillary waves. For a uniform particle (an isotropic particle with one surface characteristic) the stability of the particle at a liquid interface is decreased as the affinity for one liquid phase is increased relative to the other; for large affinity differences the detachment energies calculated from continuum theory become increasingly accurate. For a symmetric Janus particle (where the two different surface regions are of equal area), the presence of the particle at the interface becomes more stable upon increasing the difference in affinity between the two faces, with each face having a high affinity for the respective liquid phase. In the case studied here, where surface tension between the A-region of the particle with the A-component is identical to the surface tension between the B-region and B-component, the interaction is symmetric with respect to the nanoparticle interface separation. The particle is found to have a large degree of orientational freedom, in sharp contrast to micrometre-sized colloidal particles. Comparison with continuum theory shows that this significantly overestimates the detachment energy, due to its neglect of nanoparticle rotation; simulations of nanoparticles with fixed orientations show a considerably larger detachment energy. As the areas of the surface regions become asymmetric the stability of the Janus nanoparticle is decreased and, in the case of large differences in affinities of the two faces, the difference between detachment energies from simulation and continuum theory diminishes.