Structure of gas-liquid interface and hydrophobic interface for urea aqueous solution: a computer simulation study




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Urea aqueous solution is ubiquitously used to denature protein. Regardless of its extensive use, the mechanism is still unclear and remains an active field of study. There have been two proposed mechanisms, the direct and indirect. The indirect mechanism, which attributes the ability of urea of changing water structure, is susceptible since many research works show that there is little effect of urea on water structure. The current study provided evidence for the indirect mechanism by demonstrating that the introduction of urea slightly changes the water structure in the hydrophobic interfacial areas. In the current study, the urea aqueous solution systems with either gas-liquid or hydrophobic interface are studied by MD simulations, and the structures of water near the interfacial areas are analyzed in terms of density, orientation and number of hydrogen bonds. For each kind of interface, systems with four different urea concentrations are included, ranging from 0M to 8M. The results show slight change of water structure by the urea solute on the hydrophobic interface in terms of the orientation and number of hydrogen bonds per water molecule.