Salt permeation and exclusion in hydroxylated and functionalized silica pores

K Leung and SB Rempe and CD Lorenz, PHYSICAL REVIEW LETTERS, 96, 095504 (2006).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.96.095504

We use combined ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD), grand canonical Monte Carlo, and molecular dynamics techniques to study the effect of pore surface chemistry and confinement on the permeation of salt into silica nanopore arrays filled with water. AIMD shows that 11.6 A diameter hydroxylated silica pores are relatively stable in water, whereas amine groups on functionalized pore surfaces abstract silanol protons, turning into NH3+. Free energy calculations using an ab initio parametrized force field show that the hydroxylated pores strongly attract Na+ and repel Cl- ions. Pores lined with NH3+ have the reverse surface charge polarity. Finally, studies of ions in carbon nanotubes suggest that hydration of Cl- is more strongly frustrated by pure confinement effects than Na+.

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