The hydroxylation structural features of the first adsorption layer and its connection to proton transfer reactivity have been studied for the ZnO-liquid water interface at room temperature. Molecular dynamics simulations employing the ReaxFF forcefield were performed for water on seven ZnO surfaces with varying step concentrations. At higher water coverage a higher level of hydroxylation was found, in agreement with previous experimental results. We have also calculated the free energy barrier for transferring a proton to the surface, showing that stepped surfaces stabilize the hydroxylated state and decrease the water dissociation barrier. On highly stepped surfaces the barrier is only 2 kJ/mol or smaller. Outside the first adsorption layer no dissociation events were found during almost 100 ns of simulation time; this indicates that these reactions are much more likely if catalyzed by the metal oxide surface. Also, when exposed to a vacuum, the less stepped surfaces stabilize adsorption beyond monolayer coverage.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films