Structure, Dynamics And Thermodynamics Of Confined Water Molecules
This thesis deals with several aspects of the structure and dynamics of water molecules confined in nanoscopic pores. Water molecules confined in hydrophobic nanocavities exhibit unusual structural and dynamic properties. Confining walls of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) promote strong inter-water hydrogen bonding which in turn leads to several novel structural, dynamic and thermodynamic features not found in bulk water. Confined water molecules form ordered hydrogen-bonded networks, exhibit exceptionally high flow rates as compared to conventional flow in pipes, allow fast proton conduction and exhibit various other anomalous properties. Proteins are known to exploit some of the properties of confined water to perform certain physiological functions. Various properties of confined water can also be exploited in the design of nanofludic devices such as those for desalination and flow sensors. In addition, water molecules confined in SWCNTs and near graphene sheets serve as model systems to study various effects of confinement on the properties of liquids. In this thesis, we present the results of detailed molecular dynamics simulation studies of confined water molecules. In chapter 1, we summarize the findings of existing simulations and experimental studies of bulk and confined water molecules. We also highlight the significance of studying the structure and dynamics of confined water molecules in biological and biotechnological applications. Chapter 2 provides a brief ac-count of the methods and techniques used to perform the simulations described in subsequent chapters of the thesis. We also present a brief overview of the methods used to extract physical properties of water molecules from simulation data, with emphasis on the Two Phase Thermodynamics (2PT) method which we have used to compute the entropy of confined and bulk water molecules. In chapter 3, we discuss the thermodynamics of water entry in SWCNTs of various diameters. Experiments and computer simulations demonstrate that water spontaneously fills the interior of a carbon nanotube. Given the hydrophobic nature of the interior of carbon nanotubes and the strong confinement produced by narrow nanotubes, the spontaneous entry of water molecules in the pores of such nanotubes is surprising. To gain a quantitative thermodynamic understanding of this phenomenon, we use the recently developed Two Phase Thermodynamics (2PT) method to compute translational and rotational entropies of water molecules confined in SWCNTs and show that the increase in energy of a water molecule inside the nanotube is compensated by the gain in its rotational entropy. The confined water is in equilibrium with the bulk water and the Helmholtz free energy per water molecule of confined water is the same as that in the bulk within the accuracy of the simulation results. A comparison of translational and rotational spectra of water molecules confined in carbon nanotubes with those of bulk water shows significant shifts in the positions of spectral peaks that are directly related to the tube radius. These peaks are experimentally accessible and can be used to characterize water dynamics from spectroscopy experiments. We have also computed the free-energy transfer when a bulk water molecule enters a SWCNT for various temperatures and carbon-water interactions. We show that for reduced carbon-oxygen interaction, the free energy transfer is unfavourable and the SWCNT remains unoccupied for significant periods of time. As the temperature is increased, the free energy of confined water becomes unfavourable and reduced occupancy of water is observed. Bulk water exhibits many anomalous properties. No single water model is able to reproduce all properties of bulk water. Different empirical water models have been developed to reproduce different properties of water. In chapter 4, a comparative study of the structure, dynamics and thermodynamic proper-ties of water molecules confined in narrow SWCNTs, obtained from simulations using several water models including polarizable ones, is presented. We show that the inclusion of polarizability quantitatively affects the nature of hydro-gen bonding which governs different properties of water molecules. The SPC/E water model is shown to reproduce results in close agreement with those from polarizable water models with much less computational cost. In chapter 5, we report results obtained from simulations of the properties of water confined in the space between two planar surfaces. We consider three cases: two graphene surfaces, two Boron Nitride (BN) surfaces and one graphene and one BN surface. This is the ﬁrst detailed study of the behaviour of water near extended BN surfaces. We show that the hydrophilic nature of the BN surface leads to several interesting effects on the dynamics of water molecules near it. We have observed a change in the activation energy, extracted from the temperature dependence of the translational and rotational dynamics, near 280K. This change in activation energy coincides with a change in the structure of the confined sheet of water, indicated by a sudden change in energy. We have also found signatures of glassy dynamics at low temperatures for all three cases, the glassy effects being the strongest for water molecules confined between two BN sheets. These results are similar to those of earlier studies in which novel phases of water have been found for water molecules conﬁned between other surfaces at high pressure. In chapter 6, we have described our observation of a novel phenomenon exhibited by water molecules flowing through a SWCNT under a pressure gradient. We have shown that the flow induces changes in the orientation of the water molecules flowing through the nanotube. In particular, the dipole moments of the water molecules inside the nanotube get aligned along the axis of the nanotube under the effect of the flow. With increasing flow velocities, the net dipole moment ﬁrst increases and eventually saturates to a constant value. This behaviour is similar to the Langevin theory of paramagnetism with the flow velocity acting as an effective aligning field. Preferential entry of water molecules with dipole moments pointing inward is shown to be the main cause of this effect. This observation provides a way to control the dipolar alignment of water molecules inside nano-channels, with possible applications in nanofluidic devices. Chapter 7 contains a summary of our main results and a few concluding re-marks.
- Physics (PHY) 
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