We investigate driving forces of the liquid-liquid phase separation of N-isopropylpropionamide (NiPPA) aqueous solutions above the lower critical solution temperature using molecular dynamics simulations. Spontaneous phase separations of the model aqueous solution with a modified OPLS-AA force field are observed above the experimentally determined cloud point. The destabilization toward the phase separation is confirmed by temperature dependence of the long-wavelength limit of the concentration-concentration structure factor, the dominant component of which is found to be an increasing effective attraction between NiPPA molecules. At varying temperatures, the potentials of mean force (PMFs) between a pair of NiPPA molecules at infinite dilution are obtained and decomposed into the nonpolar and Coulombic contributions. The nonpolar contribution, arising essentially from molecular volume, promotes association of NiPPA molecules with increasing temperature while the Coulombic one antagonizes the association. Thus, our analysis leads to a conclusion that the driving force of thermally induced aggregation of NiPPA molecules is the temperature dependence of the nonpolar contribution in PMF between NiPPA molecules, not the temperature dependence of the number or strength of hydrogen bonds between NiPPA and water molecules.
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