Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Water Structure and Diffusion in a 1 nm Diameter Silica Nanopore as a Function of Surface Charge and Alkali Metal Counterion Identity

M Collin and S Gin and B Dazas and T Mahadevan and JC Du and IC Bourg, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 122, 17764-17776 (2018).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.8b03902

Water confined in nanopores particularly in pores narrower than 2 nm- displays distinct physicochemical properties that remain incompletely examined despite their importance in nanofluidics, molecular biology, geology, and materials sciences. Here, we use molecular dynamics simulations to investigate the coordination structure and mobility of water and alkali metals (Li, Na, K, Cs) inside a 1 nm diameter cylindrical silica nanopore as a function of surface charge density, a model system particularly relevant to the alteration kinetics of silicate glasses and minerals in geologic formations. We find that the presence of a negative surface charge and adsorbed counterions within the pore strongly impacts water structure and dynamics. In particular, it significantly orients water O-H bonds toward the surface and slows water diffusion by almost 1 order of magnitude. Ion crowding in the charged nanopore enhances the tendency of counterions to coordinate closely with the silica surface, which moderates the impact of ions on water dynamics. Co-ions are strongly excluded from the nanopore at all surface charges, suggesting that the 1 nm diameter cylindrical silica nanopores likely exhibit nearly ideal semipermeable membrane transport properties.

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