Title page for ETD etd-1029103-101200

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Vemparala, Satyavani
URN etd-1029103-101200
Title Molecular-Dynamics Simulations of Self-Assembled Monolayers (SAM) on Parallel Computers
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Physics & Astronomy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Priya Vashishta Committee Chair
Aiichiro Nakano Committee Member
Joel Tohline Committee Member
Rajiv K. Kalia Committee Member
Richard Kurtz Committee Member
Glover Waldrop Dean's Representative
  • self-assembled monolayers
  • switching surface
  • parallel programming
  • molecular dynamics
Date of Defense 2003-10-24
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the properties of self-assembled monolayers, particularly alkanethiols and Poly (ethylene glycol) terminated alkanethiols. These simulations are based on realistic interatomic potentials and require scalable and portable multiresolution algorithms implemented on parallel computers. Large-scale molecular dynamics simulations of self-assembled alkanethiol monolayer systems have been carried out using an all-atom model involving a million atoms to investigate their structural properties as a function of temperature, lattice spacing and molecular chain-length. Results show that the alkanethiol chains tilt from the surface normal by a collective angle of 25o along next-nearest neighbor direction at 300K. At 350K the system transforms to a disordered phase characterized by small tilt angle, flexible tilt direction, and random distribution of backbone planes. With increasing lattice spacing, a, the tilt angle increases rapidly from a nearly zero value at a = 4.7 to as high as 34 o at a = 5.3 at 300K. We also studied the effect of end groups on the tilt structure of SAM films. We characterized the system with respect to temperature, the alkane chain length, lattice spacing, and the length of the end group. We found that the gauche defects were predominant only in the tails, and the gauche defects increased with the temperature and number of EG units. Effect of electric field on the structure of poly (ethylene glycol) (PEG) terminated alkanethiol self assembled monolayer (SAM) on gold has been studied using parallel molecular dynamics method. An applied electric field triggers a conformational transition from all-trans to a mostly gauche conformation. The polarity of the electric field has a significant effect on the surface structure of PEG leading to a profound effect on the hydrophilicity of the surface. The electric field applied anti-parallel to the surface normal causes a reversible transition to an ordered state in which the oxygen atoms are exposed. On the other hand, an electric field applied in a direction parallel to the surface normal introduces considerable disorder in the system and the oxygen atoms are buried inside.
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