Conformational free energy of alkylsilanes by nonequilibrium-pulling Monte Carlo simulation

Paul D. Siders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The stationary phase in supercritical fluid chromatography includes alkylsilanes, bearing typically 18-carbon alkane chains, bonded to silica. The silanes are in contact with supercritical carbon dioxide. Interaction of the stationary phase with analytes from the mobile phase depends on conformation of the silanes, whether they form a collapsed layer between the silica and the carbon dioxide or are extended into the carbon dioxide. Although equilibrium conformation of alkylsilanes can be determined by equilibrium Monte Carlo (MC) simulation, that is hampered by slow relaxation of the chains. An alternative is to pull alkylsilanes from collapsed to extended conformations, then calculate free energy change from the Jarzynski equality. This work compares conformational results from equilibrium MC simulation to free energies from nonequilibrium pulling simulations. Because both equilibrium and nonequilibrium simulations are faster for shorter silanes, this work also compares results from 8-carbon and 18-carbon silanes. Free energies from nonequilibrium pulling predict that alkylsilanes tend to bend over and form a layer between silica and carbon dioxide. Results from equilibrium simulations are qualitatively consistent with results from nonequilibrium pulling. Longer-chain silanes have greater tendency to extend slightly into the carbon dioxide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-701
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Simulation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 12 2016


  • Jarzynski equality
  • Monte carlo simulation
  • alkane conformation
  • nonequilibrium pulling
  • steered Monte carlo


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