Molecular insights on confined water in the nanochannels of self-assembled ionic liquid crystal


Yoshiki Ishii, Nobuyuki Matubayasi, Go Watanabe, Takashi Kato, and Hitoshi Washizu

Self-assembled ionic liquid crystals can transport water and ions via the periodic nanochannels, and these materials are promising candidates as water treatment membranes. Molecular insights on the water transport process are, however, less investigated because of computational difficulties of ionic soft matters and the self-assembly. Here we report specific behavior of water molecules in the nanochannels by using the self-consistent modeling combining density functional theory and molecular dynamics and the large-scale molecular dynamics calculation. The simulations clearly provide the one-dimensional (1D) and 3D-interconnected nanochannels of self-assembled columnar and bicontinuous structures, respectively, with the precise mesoscale order observed by x-ray diffraction measurement. Water molecules are then confined inside the nanochannels with the formation of hydrogen bonding network. The quantitative analyses of free energetics and anisotropic diffusivity reveal that, the mesoscale geometry of 1D nanodomain profits the nature of water transport via advantages of dissolution and diffusion mechanisms inside the ionic nanochannels.

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