Pulling single cellulose molecules from a crystalline cellulose surface has been modeled by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the experimental procedure used in atomic force microscopy (AFM). Specifically, the aim of the study was to investigate cellulose interactions at desorption. Simulations were performed in both water and the organic solvent cyclohexane. Moreover, the effects of initial octamer conformation and orientation with respect to the surface chains were studied. A strong effect from the solvent was observed. In cyclohexane, normal forces of 200−500 pN and energies of 43.5 ± 6.0 kJ/mol glucose unit were required to pull off the octamer. The normal forces in water were substantially lower, around 58 pN, and the energies were 18.2 ± 3.6 kJ/mol glucose unit. In addition, the lateral components of the pull-off force were shown to provide information on initial conformation and orientation. Hydrogen bonds between the octamer and surface were analyzed and found to be an important factor in the pull-off behavior. Altogether, it was shown that MD provides detailed information on the desorption processes that may be useful for the interpretation of AFM experiments.
Bergenstråhle, M., Thormann, E., Nordgren, N., & Berglund, L. A. (2009). Force Pulling of Single Cellulose Chains at the Crystalline Cellulose−Liquid Interface: A Molecular Dynamics Study. Langmuir, 25(8), 4635-4642. https://doi.org/10.1021/la803915c