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Aqueous NaCl and CsCl Solutions Confined in Crystalline Slit-Shaped Silica Nanopores of Varying Degree of Protonation

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journal contribution
posted on 17.01.2012, 00:00 by Tuan A. Ho, D. Argyris, D. R. Cole, A. Striolo
All-atom molecular dynamics simulations were conducted to study the dynamics of aqueous electrolyte solutions confined in slit-shaped silica nanopores of various degrees of protonation. Five degrees of protonation were prepared by randomly removing surface hydrogen atoms from fully protonated crystalline silica surfaces. Aqueous electrolyte solutions containing NaCl or CsCl salt were simulated at ambient conditions. In all cases, the ionic concentration was 1 M. The results were quantified in terms of atomic density distributions within the pores, and the self-diffusion coefficient along the direction parallel to the pore surface. We found evidence for ion-specific properties that depend on ion–surface, water–ion, and only in some cases ion–ion correlations. The degree of protonation strongly affects the structure, distribution, and the dynamic behavior of confined water and electrolytes. Cl ions adsorb on the surface at large degrees of protonation, and their behavior does not depend significantly on the cation type (either Na+ or Cs+ ions are present in the systems considered). The cations show significant ion-specific behavior. Na+ ions occupy different positions within the pore as the degree of protonation changes, while Cs+ ions mainly remain near the pore center at all conditions considered. For a given degree of protonation, the planar self-diffusion coefficient of Cs+ is always greater than that of Na+ ions. The results are useful for better understanding transport under confinement, including brine behavior in the subsurface, with important applications such as environmental remediation.