Effect of Adsorbed Alcohol Layers on the Behavior of Water Molecules Confined in a Graphene Nanoslit: A Molecular Dynamics Study

QW Gao and YD Zhu and Y Ruan and YM Zhang and W Zhu and XH Lu and LH Lu, LANGMUIR, 33, 11467-11474 (2017).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b02038

With the rapid development of a two-dimensional (2D) nanomaterial, the confined liquid binary mixture has attracted increasing attention, which has significant potential in membrane separation. Alcohol/water is one of the most common systems in liquid-liquid separation. As one of the most focused systems, recent studies have found that ethanol molecules were preferentially adsorbed on the inner surface of the pore wall and formed an adsorbed ethanol layer under 2D nanoconfinement. To evaluate the effect of the alcohol adsorption layer on the mobility of water molecules, molecular simulations were performed to investigate four types of alcohol/water binary mixtures confined under a 20 angstrom graphene slit. Residence times of the water molecules covering the alcohol layer were in the order of methanol/water < ethanol/water < 1-propanol/water < 1-butanol/water. Detailed microstructural analysis of the hydrogen bonding (H-bond) network elucidated the underlying mechanism on the molecular scale in which a small average number of H-bonds between the preferentially adsorbed alcohol molecules and the surrounding water molecules could induce a small degree of damage to the H-bond network of the water molecules covering the alcohol layer, resulting in the long residence time of the water molecules.

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