Structures and thermodynamics of water encapsulated by graphene

SP Jiao and CH Duan and ZP Xu, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 7, 2646 (2017).

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-02582-7

Understanding phase behaviors of nanoconfined water has driven notable research interests recently. In this work, we examine water encapsulated under a graphene cover that offers an ideal testbed to explore its molecular structures and thermodynamics. We find layered water structures for up to similar to 1000 trapped water molecules, which is stabilized by the spatial confinement and pressure induced by interfacial adhesion. For monolayer encapsulations, we identify representative two-dimensional crystalline lattices as well as defects therein. Free energy analysis shows that the structural orders with low entropy are compensated by high formation energies due to the pressurized confinement. There exists an order-to-disorder transition for this condensed phase at similar to 480-490 K, with a sharp reduction in the number of hydrogen bonds and increase in the entropy. Fast diffusion of the encapsulated water demonstrates anomalous temperature dependence, indicating the solid-to-fluid nature of this structural transition. These findings offer fundamental understandings of the encapsulated water that can be used as a pressurized cell with trapped molecular species, and provide guidance for practical applications with its presence, for example, in the design of nanodevices and nanoconfined reactive cells.

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