Journal of Physical Chemistry B

Toward a Standard Protocol for Micelle Simulation

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In this paper, we present protocols for simulating micelles using dissipative particle dynamics (and in principle molecular dynamics) that we expect to be appropriate for computing micelle properties for a wide range of surfactant molecules. The protocols address challenges in equilibrating and sampling, specifically when kinetics can be very different with changes in surfactant concentration, and with minor changes in molecular size and structure, even using the same force field parameters. We demonstrate that detection of equilibrium can be automated and is robust, for the molecules in this study and others we have considered. In order to quantify the degree of sampling obtained during simulations, metrics to assess the degree of molecular exchange among micellar material are presented, and the use of correlation times are prescribed to assess sampling and for statistical uncertainty estimates on the relevant simulation observables. We show that the computational challenges facing the measurement of the critical micelle concentration (CMC) are somewhat different for high and low CMC materials. While a specific choice is not recommended here, we demonstrate that various methods give values that are consistent in terms of trends, even if not numerically equivalent.