From hydration repulsion to dry adhesion between asymmetric hydrophilic and hydrophobic surfaces

M. Matej and R. R. Netz, PNAS 112, 12338-12343 (2015)

News from May 27, 2016

Using all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations at constant water chemical potential in combination with basic theoretical arguments, we study hydration-induced interactions between two overall charge-neutral yet polar planar surfaces with different wetting properties. Whether the water film between the two surfaces becomes unstable below a threshold separation and cavitation gives rise to long-range attraction, depends on the sum of the two individual surface contact angles. Consequently, cavitation-induced attraction also occurs for a mildly hydrophilic surface interacting with a very hydrophobic surface. If both surfaces are very hydrophilic, hydration repulsion dominates at small separations and direct attractive force contribution can—if strong enough—give rise to wet adhesion in this case. In between the regimes of cavitation-induced attraction and hydration repulsion we find a narrow range of contact angle combinations where the surfaces adhere at contact in the absence of cavitation. This dry adhesion regime is driven by direct surface–surface interactions. We derive simple laws for the cavitation transition as well as for the transition between hydration repulsion and dry adhesion, which favorably compare with simulation results in a generic adhesion state diagram as a function of the two surface contact angles.  doi


This article was recently mentioned on Philip Ball's Blog: Water in Biology

5 of 21