The selective heating effect of microwave irradiation on a binary mixture of water and polyethylene oxide: a molecular dynamics simulation approach

JH Chen and MJ Warner and B Sikora and D Kiddle and D Coverdell and O Allam and PA Kohl and SS Jang, PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 25, 12522-12531 (2023).

DOI: 10.1039/d3cp00349c

In this study, we investigate the molecular mechanisms of a microwave- driven selective heating process by performing molecular dynamics simulations for three different systems including pure water, pure polyethylene oxide (PEO), and water-PEO mixed systems in the presence of a microwave with two different intensities of electric field such as 0.001 V angstrom(-1) and 0.01 V angstrom(-1) at a frequency of 100 GHz. First, from performing molecular dynamics simulations of CO and CO2 in the presence of the microwave, it is confirmed that the molecular dipole moment is responsible for the rotational motion induced by the oscillating electric field. Second, by analyzing the MD simulations of the pure water system, we discover that the dipole moment of water exhibits a time lag with respect to the microwave. During the heating process, however, the temperature, kinetic, and potential energies increase synchronously with the oscillating electric field of the microwave, showing that the heating of the water system is caused by the molecular reaction of water to the microwave. Comparing the water-PEO mixed system to the pure water and pure PEO systems, the water-PEO mixed system has a higher heating rate than the pure PEO system but a lower heating rate than the pure water system. Therefore, we conclude that heating the water-PEO mixed system is driven by water molecules selectively activated by microwave irradiation. We also calculate the diffusion coefficients of water molecules and PEO chains by describing their mean square displacements, demonstrating that the diffusion coefficients are increased in the presence of microwaves for both water and PEO in pure and mixed systems. Lastly, during the microwave heating process, the structures of the water-PEO mixed system are altered as a function of the intensity of electric field, which is mainly driven by the response of water molecules.

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