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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jul 5;102(27):9458-62. Epub 2005 Jun 23.

Reduced water density at hydrophobic surfaces: effect of dissolved gases.

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1
Manuel Lujan Neutron Scattering Center, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA.

Abstract

Here, direct noninvasive neutron reflectivity measurements reveal the presence of a reduced (deuterated) water density region, with a sigmoidal density profile at the hydrophobic silane-water interface that depends on the type and concentration of dissolved gases in the water. Removal of dissolved gases decreases the width of the reduced water density region, and their reintroduction leads to its increase. When compared with recent computer simulations, a locally fluctuating density profile is proposed, whereas preexisting nanobubbles are excluded. The presence of a fluctuating reduced water density region between two hydrophobic surfaces and the attractive "depletion force" to which it leads may help explain the hydrophobic force and its reported diminution in deaerated water. Our results are also quantitatively consistent with recent dynamic surface force apparatus results that drastically revise previous estimates of the slip length of water flowing past hydrophobic surfaces from microns to approximately 20 nm. Our observations, therefore, go a long way toward reconciling three quite different types of experiments and phenomena: water depletion at hydrophobic surfaces, water slip at hydrophobic surfaces, and the hydrophobic interaction.

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