Effects of thermodynamic ensembles and mineral surfaces on interfacial water structure

TR Zeitler and JA Greathouse and RT Cygan, PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 14, 1728-1734 (2012).

DOI: 10.1039/c2cp22593j

While performing molecular dynamics simulations of water or aqueous solutions in a slab geometry, such as at mineral surfaces, it is important to match bulk water density in the diffuse region of the model system with that expected for the appropriate experimental conditions. Typically, a slab geometry represents parallel surfaces with a variable region of confined water (this region can range in size from a few AAngstroms to many tens of Angstroms). While constant-pressure simulations usually result in appropriate density values in the bulk diffuse region removed from either surface, constant-volume simulations have also been widely used, sometimes without careful consideration of the method for determining water content. Simulations using two thermodynamic ensembles as well as two methods for calculating the water-accessible volume have been investigated for two distinct silicate surfaces-hydrophilic cristobalite (111) and hydrophobic pyrophyllite (001). In cases where NPT simulations are not feasible, a simple geometry-based treatment of the accessible volume can be sufficient to replicate bulk water density far from the surface. However, the use of the Connolly method can be more appropriate in cases where a surface is less well-defined. Specific water-surface interactions (e.g., hydrophobic repulsion) also play a role in determining water content in a confined water simulation. While reported here for planar surfaces, these results can be extended to an interface with any solvent, or to other types of surfaces and geometries.

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