Coarse-grained modelling for soft matter scattering

  • Andrew McCluskey

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This work uses different coarse-graining methodologies to assist in the analysis of scattering measurements from soft matter aggregates, such as surfactant monolayers and micelles. The term “‘coarse-graining” is used broadly in this work; to describe the coarse-graining of a classical simulation potential model, a surfactant monolayer model that consists two layers, and a severe coarse-graining methodology that describes a surfactant molecule as just a position and direction in space. In all three cases, the aim of the applied coarse-graining is to improve the methods of analysis that may be performed for reflectometry and small angle scattering measurements.

A surfactant monolayer model, that was considerate of the chemical bonds between the surfactant heads and tails, was developed for the analysis of reflectometry measurements from a phospholipid monolayer at the interface between air and a deep eutectic solvent. This model allowed for a unique insight into the structure of the monolayer at the given interface. To assess the utility of coarse-grained potential models in the analysis of neutron reflectometry, a phospholipid monolayer was simulated using three different potential models, of different particle grain-size. This allowed for a better understanding of the simulation resolution necessary to accurately and successfully apply simulation-driven analysis to reflectometry. Finally, a severely coarse-grained description of a surfactant was used in a particle swarm optimisation to try and develop a starting structure for a multiple micelle simulation, where the experimental scattering profile was the optimisation target.

Alongside the development and application of coarse-graining methodologies, the final chapter of this work describes the development of open-source software and teaching materials for the introduction of classical molecular simulation. These educational resources introduce scattering users to simulation and its utility in scattering analysis, to enable a future where simulation driven analysis may be performed accurately by all.
Date of Award19 Jun 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SponsorsDiamond Light Source Ltd
SupervisorKaren Edler (Supervisor) & Steve Parker (Supervisor)

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