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J Chem Phys. 2014 Nov 14;141(18):18C519. doi: 10.1063/1.4897249.

The molecular structure of the interface between water and a hydrophobic substrate is liquid-vapor like.

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Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


With molecular simulation for water and a tunable hydrophobic substrate, we apply the instantaneous interface construction [A. P. Willard and D. Chandler, "Instantaneous liquid interfaces," J. Phys. Chem. B 114, 1954-1958 (2010)] to examine the similarity between a water-vapor interface and a water-hydrophobic surface interface. We show that attractive interactions between a hydrophobic surface and water affect capillary wave fluctuations of the instantaneous liquid interface, but these attractive interactions have essentially no effect on the intrinsic interface. The intrinsic interface refers to molecular structure in terms of distances from the instantaneous interface. Further, the intrinsic interface of liquid water and a hydrophobic substrate differs little from that of water and its vapor. The same is not true, we show, for an interface between water and a hydrophilic substrate. In that case, strong directional substrate-water interactions disrupt the liquid-vapor-like interfacial hydrogen bonding network.


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