Characterization of Cetyltrimethylammonium Bromide/Hexanol Reverse Micelles by Experimentally Benchmarked Molecular Dynamics Simulations. Academic Article uri icon


  • Encapsulation of small molecules, proteins, and other macromolecules within the protective water core of reverse micelles is emerging as a powerful strategy for a variety of applications. The cationic surfactant cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) in combination with hexanol as a cosurfactant is particularly useful in the context of solution NMR spectroscopy of encapsulated proteins. Small-angle X-ray and neutron scattering is employed to investigate the internal structure of the CTAB/hexanol reverse micelle particle under conditions appropriate for high-resolution NMR spectroscopy. The scattering profiles are used to benchmark extensive molecular dynamics simulations of this reverse micelle system and indicate that the parameters used in these simulations recapitulate experimental results. Scattering profiles and simulations indicate formation of homogeneous solutions of small approximately spherical reverse micelle particles at a water loading of 20 composed of 150 CTAB and 240 hexanol molecules. The 3000 waters comprising the reverse micelle core show a gradient of translational diffusion that reaches that of bulk water at the center. Rotational diffusion is slowed relative to bulk throughout the water core, with the greatest slowing near the CTAB headgroups. The 5 thick interfacial region of the micelle consists of overlapping layers of Br(-) enriched water, CTAB headgroups, and hexanol hydroxyl groups, containing about one-third of the total water. This study employs well-parametrized MD simulations, X-ray and neutron scattering, and electrostatic theory to illuminate fundamental properties of CTAB/hexanol reverse micelle size, shape, partitioning, and water behavior.

published proceedings

  • Langmuir

author list (cited authors)

  • Fuglestad, B., Gupta, K., Wand, A. J., & Sharp, K. A.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016 11:11 AM