Proton transfer in liquid water confined inside graphene slabs
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The microscopic structure and dynamics of an excess proton in water constrained in narrow graphene slabs between 0.7 and 3.1 nm wide has been studied by means of a series of molecular dynamics simulations. Interaction of water and carbon with the proton species was modeled using a multistate empirical valence bond Hamiltonian model. The analysis of the effects of confinement on proton solvation structure and on its dynamical properties has been considered for varying densities. The system is organized in one interfacial and a bulk-like region, both of variable size. In the widest interplate separations, the lone proton shows a marked tendency to place itself in the bulk phase of the system, due to the repulsive interaction with the carbon atoms. However, as the system is compressed and the proton is forced to move to the vicinity of graphene walls it moves closer to the interface, producing a neat enhancement of the local structure. We found a marked slowdown of proton transfer when the separation of the two graphene plates is reduced. In the case of lowest distances between graphene plates (0.7 and 0.9 nm), only one or two water layers persist and the two-dimensional character of water structure becomes evident. By means of spectroscopical analysis, we observed the persistence of Zundel and Eigen structures in all cases, although at low interplate separations a signature frequency band around 2500 cm-1 suffers a blue shift and moves to characteristic values of asymmetric hydronium ion vibrations, indicating some unstability of the typical Zundel-Eigen moieties and their eventual conversion to a single hydronium species solvated by water.
CitationTahat, A., Marti, J. Proton transfer in liquid water confined inside graphene slabs. "Physical review E: statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics", 09 Setembre 2015, núm. 3, p. 032402-1-032402-10.