Multi-scale approach for modeling stability, aggregation, and network formation of nanoparticles suspended in aqueous solutions†
Suspensions of nanoparticles (NPs) in aqueous solutions hold promise in many research fields, including energy applications, water desalination, and nanomedicine. The ability to tune NP interactions, and thereby to modulate the NP self-assembly process, holds the key to rationally synthesize NP suspensions. However, traditional models obtained by coupling the DLVO (Derjaguin, Landau, Verwey, and Overbeek) theory of NP interactions, or suitable modifications of it, with the kinetic theory of colloidal aggregation are inadequate to precisely model NP self-assembly because they neglect hydration forces and discrete-size effects predominant at the nanoscale. By synergistically blending molecular dynamics and stochastic dynamics simulations with continuum theories, we develop a multi-scale (MS) model, which is able to accurately predict suspension stability, timescales for NP aggregation, and macroscopic properties (e.g., the thermal conductivity) of bare and surfactant-coated NP suspensions, in good agreement with the experimental data. Our results enable the formulation of design rules for engineering NP aqueous suspensions in a wide range of applications.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Open Access Articles