We study some aspects of hydrophobic interaction between molecular rough and flexible model surfaces. The model we use in this work is based on a model we used previously (Eun, C.; Berkowitz, M. L. J. Phys. Chem. B 2009, 113, 13222-13228), when we studied the interaction between model patches of lipid membranes. Our original model consisted of two graphene plates with attached polar headgroups; the plates were immersed in a water bath. The interaction between such plates can be considered as an example of a hydrophilic interaction. In the present work, we modify our previous model by removing the charge from the zwitterionic headgroups. As a result of this procedure, the plate character changes: it becomes hydrophobic. By separating the total interaction (or potential of mean force, PMF) between plates into the direct and the water-mediated interactions, we observe that the latter changes from repulsive to attractive, clearly emphasizing the important role of water as a medium. We also investigate the effect of roughness and flexibility of the headgroups on the interaction between plates and observe that roughness enhances the character of the hydrophobic interaction. The presence of a dewetting transition in a confined space between chargeremoved plates confirms that the interaction between plates is strongly hydrophobic. In addition, we notice that there is a shallow local minimum in the PMF in the case of the charge-removed plates. We find that this minimum is associated with the configurational changes that flexible headgroups undergo as the two plates are brought together. © 2011 American Chemical Society.
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