Effects of confinement on water structure and dynamics and on proton transport: a molecular simulation study
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Classical molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are performed to study structural and dynamic properties of water confined within graphite surfaces. The surfaces are separated at distances varying between 7 and 14.5 Å and the water density is held constant at 1g/cc. Results at 298 K show the formation of a well-ordered structure constituted by water layers parallel to the graphite surfaces. The water molecules in the layers in contact with the surface have a tendency to orient their dipole parallel to the surface. Such ice-like structures may have different structural and dynamic properties than those of ice. The calculated mean square displacement reveals that the mobilities of the confined water at a separation of 8 Å become similar to that of low-temperature water (213 K) at the same density, although the structures of water are very different. The temperature at which the mobility of water confined at the separation of 7 Å would become similar to that of bulk low-temperature water was found to be 373K. With respect to the dynamics of confined water, a significant blue shift is observed in the intermolecular vibrational modes associated with the O×××O×××O bending and O×××O stretching of molecules linked by hydrogen bonds. The analysis of the geometry of water clusters confined between two graphite surfaces has been performed using ab initio methods. The ab initio calculations yield two preferential orientations of water molecules which are; 1) one O-H bond points to the surface and the other is parallel; 2) both O-H bonds are parallel to the surface. These orientations agree with those found in our MD simulation results. The calculated energy barriers for proton transfer of the confined H3O+-(H2O) complexes between two graphite model surfaces suggest that the confinement enhances the proton transfer at the separation 6-14.5 Å. When the confinement is high, at a separation of 4 Å, the barrier energies are extremely large. The confinement does not enhance proton transfer when the H3O+-(H2O) complexes are located further from the surfaces by more than 8 Å. As a result, the barrier energies start to increase at the separation of 20 Å.
Hirunsit, Pussana (2007). Effects of confinement on water structure and dynamics and on proton transport: a molecular simulation study. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from