Discussion on molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the asphalt materials

Document Type


Publication Date



The application of asphalt materials in pavement engineering has been increasingly widespread and sophisticated over the past several decades. Variations in the properties of asphalt binder during mixing, transportation, and paving can affect the performance of asphalt pavement. However, the asphalt material is a non-homogeneous and complex organic substance, consisting of various molecules with widely various molecular weights, elemental compositions, and structures. This complexity leads to difficulties for researchers to clearly and immediately understand the properties of asphalt materials and their variations. The multi-scale research approach combines macroscopic experimental data and microscopic simulation results from a practical engineering perspective. It helps to improve the understanding of asphalt materials. The molecular dynamics (MD) simulation proposes a corresponding molecular model of asphalt material based on experimental data, and the simulation algorithm is able to derive properties similar to those of real asphalt. This paper provides a comprehensive review of the current studies on MD simulation of asphalt materials, including modeling, properties, and multi-scale analysis. As a key part of the computational simulation, this paper discusses the typical asphalt binder and asphalt-aggregate interface models constructed by different groups, and also presents their differences from real samples and their feasibility based on fundamental properties. After the introduction of molecular models, the extensive work made by researchers based on molecular models is categorically reviewed and discussed. The strengths and weaknesses of MD simulation methods in the study of asphalt materials are also summarized in order to provide the reader with a more comprehensive understanding of the relevant contents and to guide subsequent research.

Publication Title

Advances in Colloid and Interface Science