Roles of Hydrogen Bonds and Alignment in Oriented Attachment of Gibbsite Nanoparticles: Insights from Molecular Dynamics

TV Vu and TA Ho and LJ Criscenti, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 127, 8695-8703 (2023).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.2c08157

Oriented attachment (OA) of nanoparticles is an important crystal growth pathway in the synthesis of hierarchical structures. Although a significant understanding of OA has been made, the effect of atomistic misalignment and the roles of solvent/particle and particle/particle interactions on the structure-energy relationship during an OA remain elusive. In this study, we perform molecular dynamics simulations to calculate the potential of mean force (PMF) profile for gibbsite particle translation on a gibbsite slab with 1 or 2 intervening water layers (1W or 2W). The structures of the gibbsite surfaces and the confined water are analyzed to determine how the number and type of hydrogen bonds (H-bonds) influence the free energy profile during the translation. The PMF profile exhibits a periodicity of length 5.078 angstrom, consistent with the gibbsite unit cell size along the translation direction. The changes in the surface-water and water-water hydrogen bond network and water and surface OH groups' orientations during the translation are strongly coupled with the changes in the PMF profile in the 1W case. However, when increasing the number of intervening water layers from 1W to 2W, the particle/slab misalignment becomes a dominant factor controlling the behavior of the PMF profile. We also establish a method to quantify misalignment between the particle and the slab, which exhibits a strong correlation with the free energy for the 2W case. These results shed more light into the roles of particle/slab misalignment and hydrogen bond network in the OA of mineral particles in aqueous solution.

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