The new view of hydrophobic free energy
In the new view, hydrophobic free energy is measured by the work of solute transfer of hydrocarbon gases from vapor to aqueous solution. Reasons are given for believing that older values, measured by solute transfer from a reference solvent to water, are not quantitatively correct. The hydrophobic free energy from gas–liquid transfer is the sum of two opposing quantities, the cavity work (unfavorable) and the solute–solvent interaction energy (favorable). Values of the interaction energy have been found by simulation for linear alkanes and are used here to find the cavity work, which scales linearly with molar volume, not accessible surface area. The hydrophobic free energy is the dominant factor driving folding as judged by the heat capacity change for transfer, which agrees with values for solvating hydrocarbon gases. There is an apparent conflict with earlier values of hydrophobic free energy from studies of large-to-small mutations and an explanation is given.