Energy Stored in Nanoscale Water Capillary Bridges between Patchy Surfaces

BZ Tang and SV Buldyrev and LM Xu and N Giovambattista, LANGMUIR, 36, 7246-7251 (2020).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.0c00549

We perform molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of a water capillary bridge (WCB) expanding between two identical chemically heterogeneous surfaces. The model surfaces, based on the structure of silica, are hydrophobic and are decorated by a hydrophilic (hydroxylated silica) patch that is in contact with the WCB. Our MD simulations results, including the WCB profile and forces induced on the walls, are in agreement with capillarity theory even at the smallest wall separations studied, h = 2.5-3 nm. Remarkably, the energy stored in the WCB can be relatively large, with an energy density that is comparable to that harvested by water-responsive materials used in actuators and nanogenerators.

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