Self-Diffusion of Surface Defects at Copper-Water Interfaces

SK Natarajan and J Behler, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 121, 4368-4383 (2017).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.6h12657

Solid liquid interfaces play an important role in many fields like eleCtrochemistry, corrosion, and heterogeneous catalysis. For understanding the related processes, detailed insights into the elementary steps at the atomic level are mandatory. Here we unravel the properties of prototypical surface-defects like adatoms and vacancies at a number of copper water interfaces including the low-index Cu(111), Cu(100), and Cu(110), as well as the stepped Cu(211) and Cu(311) surfaces. Using a first-principles quality neural network potential constructed from density functional theory reference data in combination with molecular dynamics and metadynamics simulations, we investigate the defect diffusion mechanisms and the associated free energy barriers. Further, the solvent structure and the mobility of the interfacial water molecules close to the defects are analyzed and compared to the defect- free surfaces. We find that, like at the copper vacuum interface, hopping mechanisms are preferred compared to exchange mechanisms, while the associated barriers for hopping are reduced in the presence of liquid water. The water structure close to adatoms and vacancies exhibits pronounced local features and differs strongly from the structure at the ideal low-index surfaces. Moreover, in particular at Cu(M) the adatoms are very mobile and hopping events along the surface are more frequent than the exchange of coordinating water molecules in their local environment. Consequently, adatom self-diffusion processes at Cu(111) involve entities of adatoms and their associated solvation shells.

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