Hydration of metal surfaces can be dynamically heterogeneous and hydrophobic

DT Limmer and AP Willard and P Madden and D Chandler, PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 110, 4200-4205 (2013).

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1301596110

We have applied molecular dynamics and methods of importance sampling to study structure and dynamics of liquid water in contact with metal surfaces. The specific surfaces considered resemble the 100 and 111 faces of platinum. Several results emerge that should apply generally, not just to platinum. These results are generic consequences of water molecules binding strongly to surfaces that are incommensurate with favorable hydrogen-bonding patterns. We show that adlayers of water under these conditions have frustrated structures that interact unfavorably with adjacent liquid water. We elucidate dynamical processes of water in these cases that extend over a broad range of timescales, from less than picoseconds to more than nanoseconds. Associated spatial correlations extend over nanometers. We show that adlayer reorganization occurs intermittently, and each reorganization event correlates motions of several molecules. We show that soft liquid interfaces form adjacent to the adlayer, as is generally characteristic of liquid water adjacent to a hydrophobic surface. The infrequent adlayer reorganization produces a hydrophobic heterogeneity that we characterize by studying the degrees by which different regions of the adlayers attract small hydrophobic particles. Consequences for electrochemistry are discussed in the context of hydronium ions being attracted from the liquid to the metal adlayer surface.

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