Structure of aqueous alkali metal halide electrolyte solutions from molecular simulations of phase-transferable polarizable models
The structure of aqueous solutions of alkali metal halides is studied under ambient thermodynamic conditions and concentrations from infinite dilution to supersaturation using molecular dynamics simulations of phase-transferable polarizable models. The results of the solution densities, radial distribution functions, 3D spatial distribution functions, the properties of hydrogen and other noncovalent bonds in solutions, hydration numbers, coordination numbers, numbers of contact cation-anion pairs, and other statistics of the number of ions hydrated simultaneously by a shared water molecule are systematically presented. In particular, the results show and quantify how the strengths of the hydration bonds of different ions vary and how the hydration numbers decrease with increasing concentration in parallel with an increase in the number of contact cation-anion pairs. In most cases, they completely compensate for the loss of water-ion bonds by an increase in cation-anion bonds. The exceptions are solutions based on the Li+ cation, which retain a solid hydration shell even at high concentrations. This behavior is conceptualized based on three imaginary driving forces: the first dominating at low concentrations and causing full hydration of the ions, the second representing a lack of water necessary for full hydration of the ions and increasing with increasing concentration, and the third attracting counterions to the water-unoccupied sites of the hydration shells and also increasing with concentration. This concept can be used not only to understand the structural behavior of homogeneous electrolytes in thermodynamic equilibrium but also to study phenomena that involve preferential adsorption of ions on electrodes, nanochannels, or porous materials. The data obtained for the number and strength of hydration bonds and ion pairs can also be used in further studies to elucidate the diffusion behavior, viscosity, and conductivity of aqueous electrolyte solutions.
- J. Dočkal, P. Mimrová, M. Lísal, F. Moučka, Structure of aqueous alkali metal halide electrolyte solutions from molecular simulations of phase-transferable polarizable models. J. Mol. Liq. 394, 123797, 2024. DOI