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©2017 by Biomicrofluidics Laberatory

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Surface charge‑dependent transport of water in graphene nano‑channels

Deionized water flow through positively charged graphene nano-channels is investigated using molecular dynamics simulations as a function of the surface charge density. Due to the net electric charge, Ewald summation algorithm cannot be used for modeling long-range Coulomb interactions. Instead, the cutoff distance used for Coulomb forces is systematically increased until the density distribution and orientation of water atoms converged to a unified profile. Liquid density near the walls increases with increased surface charge density, and the water molecules reorient their dipoles with oxygen atoms facing the positively charged surfaces. This effect weakens away from the charged surfaces. Force-driven water flows in graphene nano-channels exhibit slip lengths over 60 nm, which result in plug-like velocity profiles in sufficiently small nano-channels. With increased surface charge density, the slip length decreases and the apparent viscosity of water increases, leading to parabolic velocity profiles and decreased flow rates. Results of this study are relevant for water desalination applications, where optimization of the surface charge for ion removal with maximum flow rate is desired.