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Journal Article

Hydrophobic nanoconfinement suppresses fluctuations in supercooled water


Mazza,  Marco G.
Group Non-equilibrium soft matter, Department of Dynamics of Complex Fluids, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Society;

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Strekalova, E. G., Mazza, M. G., Stanley, H. E., & Franzese, G. (2012). Hydrophobic nanoconfinement suppresses fluctuations in supercooled water. Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, 24(6): 064111. doi:10.1088/0953-8984/24/6/064111.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-2F6E-2
We perform very efficient Monte Carlo simulations to study the phase diagram of a water monolayer confined in a fixed disordered matrix of hydrophobic nanoparticles between two hydrophobic plates. We consider different hydrophobic nanoparticle concentrations c. We adopt a coarse-grained model of water that, for c = 0, displays a first-order liquid–liquid phase transition (LLPT) line with negative slope in the pressure–temperature (P–T) plane, ending in a liquid–liquid critical point at about 174 K and 0.13 GPa. We show that upon increase of c the liquid–gas spinodal and the temperature of the maximum density line are shifted with respect to the c = 0 case. We also find dramatic changes in the region around the LLPT. In particular, we observe a substantial (more than 90%) decrease of isothermal compressibility, thermal expansion coefficient and constant-pressure specific heat upon increasing c, consistent with recent experiments. Moreover, we find that a hydrophobic nanoparticle concentration as small as c = 2.4% is enough to destroy the LLPT for P ! 0.16 GPa. The fluctuations of volume apparently diverge at P ⇡ 0.16 GPa, suggesting that the LLPT line ends in an LL critical point at 0.16 GPa. Therefore, nanoconfinement reduces the range of P–T where the LLPT is observable. By increasing the hydrophobic nanoparticle concentration c, the LLPT becomes weaker and its P–T range smaller. The model allows us to explain these phenomena in terms of a proliferation of interfaces among domains with different local order, promoted by the hydrophobic effect of the water–hydrophobic-nanoparticle interfaces.