Hydrophobicity and Charge Distribution Effects in the Formation of Bioorganoclays

P Grancic and DN Tunega, MINERALS, 11, 1102 (2021).

DOI: 10.3390/min11101102

Interactions of bioorganic moieties with clay minerals have attracted attention not only from the perspective of novel bioclay materials but also because they play a crucial role in our understanding of physical and chemical processes in soils. The aim of the present article is to explore the interactions responsible for the formation of a phosphatidylcholine-kaolinite bioclay by employing a series of classical molecular dynamic simulations. Detailed analysis of the structure and energies of the resulting bioclays reveals that the phosphatidylcholine molecules bind to the kaolinite surface either via their zwitterionic heads or hydrophobic aliphatic tails, depending on the kaolinite surface characteristics and the density of organic coating. The phosphatidylcholine molecules have a tendency to form irregular layers with a preferred parallel orientation of molecules with respect to the kaolinite surface. The tails exhibit varying degrees of flexibility and disorder depending on their distance from the surface and the density of surface coating. Significant differences in the binding can be spotted with respect to the two types of kaolinite basal surfaces, i.e., the hydrophobic siloxane surface, which possesses a considerable dispersion character, and the hydrophilic alumina surface, polarized by the surface hydroxyl groups.

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