Anomalous capillary filling and wettability reversal in nanochannels

S Gravelle and C Ybert and L Bocquet and L Joly, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 93, 033123 (2016).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.93.033123

This work revisits capillary filling dynamics in the regime of nanometric to subnanometric channels. Using molecular dynamics simulations of water in carbon nanotubes, we show that for tube radii below one nanometer, both the filling velocity and the Jurin rise vary nonmonotonically with the tube radius. Strikingly, with fixed chemical surface properties, this leads to confinement-induced reversal of the tube wettability from hydrophilic to hydrophobic for specific values of the radius. By comparing with a model liquid metal, we show that these effects are not specific to water. Using complementary data from slit channels, we then show that they can be described using the disjoining pressure associated with the liquid structuring in confinement. This breakdown of the standard continuum framework is of main importance in the context of capillary effects in nanoporous media, with potential interests ranging from membrane selectivity to mechanical energy storage.

Return to Publications page