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J Chem Phys. 2008 Sep 7;129(9):094508. doi: 10.1063/1.2971040.

Water uptake coefficients and deliquescence of NaCl nanoparticles at atmospheric relative humidities from molecular dynamics simulations.

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0221, USA.


Deliquescence properties of sodium chloride are size dependent for particles smaller than 100 nm. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are used to determine deliquescence relative humidity (DRH) for particles in this size range by modeling idealized particles in contact with humid air. Constant humidity conditions are simulated by inclusion of a liquid reservoir of NaCl solution in contact with the vapor phase, which acts as a source of water molecules as uptake by the nanoparticle proceeds. DRH is bounded between the minimum humidity at which sustained water accumulation is observed at the particle surface and the maximum humidity at which water accumulation is not observed. Complete formation of a liquid layer is not observed due to computational limitations. The DRH determined increases with decreasing particle diameter, rising to between 91% and 93% for a 2.2 nm particle and between 81% and 85% for an 11 nm particle, higher than the 75% expected for particles larger than 100 nm. The simulated size dependence of DRH agrees well with predictions from bulk thermodynamic models and appears to converge with measurements for sizes larger than 10 nm. Complete deliquescence of nanoparticles in the 2-11 nm size range requires between 1 and 100 mus, exceeding the available computational resources for this study. Water uptake coefficients are near 0.1 with a negligible contribution from diffusion effects. Planar uptake coefficients decrease from 0.41 to 0.09 with increasing fractional water coverage from 0.002 to 1, showing a linear dependence on the logarithm of the coverage fraction with a slope of -0.08+/-0.01 (representing the effect of solvation). Particle uptake coefficients increase from 0.13 at 11 nm to 0.65 at 2.2 nm, showing a linear dependence on the logarithm of the edge fraction (which is a function of diameter) with a slope of 0.74+/-0.04 (representing larger edge effects in smaller particles).

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