Probing electrolyte-silica interactions through simulations of the infrared spectroscopy of nanoscale pores

HS Senanayake and JA Greathouse and WH Thompson, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 157, 034702 (2022).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0100583

The structural and dynamical properties of nanoconfined solutions can differ dramatically from those of the corresponding bulk systems. Understanding the changes induced by confinement is central to controlling the behavior of synthetic nanostructured materials and predicting the characteristics of biological and geochemical systems. A key outstanding issue is how the molecular-level behavior of nanoconfined electrolyte solutions is reflected in different experimental, particularly spectroscopic, measurements. This is addressed here through molecular dynamics simulations of the OH stretching infrared (IR) spectroscopy of NaCl, NaBr, and NaI solutions in isotopically dilute HOD/D2O confined in hydroxylated amorphous silica slit pores of width 1-6 nm and pH & SIM;2. In addition, the water reorientation dynamics and spectral diffusion, accessible by pump-probe anisotropy and two-dimensional IR measurements, are investigated. The aim is to elucidate the effect of salt identity, confinement, and salt concentration on the vibrational spectra. It is found that the IR spectra of the electrolyte solutions are only modestly blue-shifted upon confinement in amorphous silica slit pores, with both the size of the shift and linewidth increasing with the halide size, but these effects are suppressed as the salt concentration is increased. This indicates the limitations of linear IR spectroscopy as a probe of confined water. However, the OH reorientational and spectral diffusion dynamics are significantly slowed by confinement even at the lowest concentrations. The retardation of the dynamics eases with increasing salt concentration and pore width, but it exhibits a more complex behavior as a function of halide. Published under an exclusive license by AIP Publishing.

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