Thin Water Films at Multifaceted Hematite Particle Surfaces.


Mineral surfaces exposed to moist air stabilize nanometer- to micrometer-thick water films. This study resolves the nature of thin water film formation at multifaceted hematite (α-Fe2O3) nanoparticle surfaces with crystallographic faces resolved by selected area electron diffraction. Dynamic vapor adsorption (DVA) in the 0-19 Torr range at 298 K showed that these particles stabilize water films consisting of up to 4-5 monolayers. Modeling of these data predicts water loadings in terms of an "adsorption regime" (up to 16 H2O/nm(2)) involving direct water binding to hematite surface sites, and of a "condensation regime" (up to 34 H2O/nm(2)) involving water binding to hematite-bound water nanoclusters. Vibration spectroscopy identified the predominant hematite surface hydroxo groups (-OH, μ-OH, μ3-OH) through which first layer water molecules formed hydrogen bonds, as well as surface iron sites directly coordinating water molecules (i.e., as geminal η-(OH2)2 sites). Chemometric analyses of the vibration spectra also revealed a strong correspondence in the response of hematite surface hydroxo groups to DVA-derived water loadings. These findings point to a near-saturation of the hydrogen-bonding environment of surface hydroxo groups at a partial water vapor pressure of ∼8 Torr (∼40% relative humidity). Classical molecular dynamics (MD) resolved the interfacial water structures and hydrogen bonding populations at five representative crystallographic faces expressed in these nanoparticles. Simulations of single oriented slabs underscored the individual roles of all (hydro)oxo groups in donating and accepting hydrogen bonds with first layer water in the "adsorption regime". These analyses pointed to the preponderance of hydrogen bond-donating -OH groups in the stabilization of thin water films. Contributions of μ-OH and μ3-OH groups are secondary, yet remain essential in the stabilization of thin water films. MD simulations also helped resolve crystallographic controls on water-water interactions occurring in the "condensation regime". Water-water hydrogen bond populations are greatest on the (001) face, and decrease in importance in the order (001) > (012) ≈ (110) > (014) ≫ (100). Simulations of a single (∼5 nm × ∼ 6 nm × ∼ 6 nm) nanometric hematite particle terminated by the (001), (110), (012), and (100) faces also highlighted the key roles that sites at particle edges play in interconnecting thin water films grown along contiguous crystallographic faces. Hydroxo-water hydrogen bond populations showed that edges were the preferential loci of binding. These simulations also suggested that equilibration times for water binding at edges were slower than on crystallographic faces. In this regard, edges, and by extension roughened surfaces, are expected to play commanding roles in the stabilization of thin water films. Thus, in focusing on the properties of nanometric-thick water layers at hematite surfaces, this study revealed the nature of interactions between water and multifaced particle surfaces. Our results pave the way for furthering our understanding of mineral-thin water film interfacial structure and reactivity on a broader range of materials.

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.5b03167

Cite this paper

@article{Boily2015ThinWF, title={Thin Water Films at Multifaceted Hematite Particle Surfaces.}, author={Jean-François Boily and Merve Yeşilbaş and Munshi Md Musleh Uddin and Lu Baiqing and Yulia Trushkina and Germ{\'a}n Salazar-Alvarez}, journal={Langmuir : the ACS journal of surfaces and colloids}, year={2015}, volume={31 48}, pages={13127-37} }