Detailed atomistic simulation of the nano-sorption and nano-diffusivity of water, tyrosol, vanillic acid, and p-coumaric acid in single wall carbon nanotubes

A Anastassiou and EK Karahaliou and O Alexiadis and VG Mavrantzas, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 139, 164711 (2013).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4825397

We report results from a detailed computer simulation study for the nano-sorption and mobility of four different small molecules (water, tyrosol, vanillic acid, and p-coumaric acid) inside smooth single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs). Most of the results have been obtained with the molecular dynamics (MD) method, but especially for the most narrow of the CNTs considered, the results for one of the molecules addressed here (water) were further confirmed through an additional Grand Canonical (mu VT) Monte Carlo (GCMC) simulation using a value for the water chemical potential mu pre-computed with the particle deletion method. Issues addressed include molecular packing and ordering inside the nanotube for the four molecules, average number of sorbed molecules per unit length of the tube, and mean residence time and effective axial diffusivities, all as a function of tube diameter and tube length. In all cases, a strong dependence of the results on tube diameter was observed, especially in the way the different molecules are packed and organized inside the CNT. For water for which predictions of properties such as local structure and packing were computed with both methods (MD and GCMC), the two sets of results were found to be fully self- consistent for all types of SWCNTs considered. Water diffusivity inside the CNT (although, strongly dependent on the CNT diameter) was computed with two different methods, both of which gave identical results. For large enough CNT diameters (larger than about 13 angstrom), this was found to be higher than the corresponding experimental value in the bulk by about 55%. Surprisingly enough, for the rest of the molecules simulated (phenolic), the simulations revealed no signs of mobility inside nanotubes with a diameter smaller than the (20, 20) tube. This is attributed to strong phenyl-phenyl attractive interactions, also to favorable interactions of these molecules with the CNT walls, which cause them to form highly ordered, very stable structures inside the nanotube, especially under strong confinement. The interaction, in particular, of the methyl group (present in tyrosol, vanillic acid, and p-coumaric acid) with the CNT walls seems to play a key role in all these compounds causing them to remain practically immobile inside nanotubes characterized by diameters smaller than about 26 angstrom. It is only for larger-diameter CNTs that tyrosol, vanillic acid, and p-coumaric acid were observed to demonstrate appreciable mobility. (C) 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.

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