Molecular Dynamics Study of Interfacial Confinement Effects of Aqueous NaCl Brines in Nanoporous Carbon

MCF Wander and KL Shuford, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 114, 20539-20546 (2010).

DOI: 10.1021/jp104972e

In this paper, studies of aqueous electrolyte solutions in contact with a family of porous carbon geometries using classical molecular dynamics simulations are presented. These simulations provide an atomic scale depiction of ion transport dynamics in different environments to elucidate power of aqueous electrolyte supercapacitors. The electrolyte contains alkali metal and halide ions, which allow for the examination of size trends within specific geometries as well as trends in concentration. The electrode pores are modeled as planar graphite sheets and carbon nanotubes with interstices ranging from one to four nanometers. Ordered layers form parallel to the carbon surface, which facilitates focused ion motion under slightly confining conditions. As a result, the ion's diffusivities are enhanced in the direction of the slit or pore. Further confining the system leads to decreased ion diffusivities. The ions are fully hydrated in all but the smallest slits and pores with those sizes showing increased ion pairing. There is strong evidence of charge separation perpendicular to the surface at all size scales, concentrations, and ion types, providing a useful baseline for examining differential capacitance behavior and future studies on energy storage. These systems show promise as high-power electrical energy storage devices.

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