A new method for determining the interfacial molecules and characterizing the surface roughness in computer simulations. Application to the liquid-vapor interface of water

Lívia B. Pártay, György Hantal, Pál Jedlovszky, Árpád Vincze, George Horvai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

117 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A new method is presented to identify the truly interfacial molecules at fluid/fluid interfaces seen at molecular resolution, a situation that regularly occurs in computer simulations. In the new method, the surface is scanned by moving a probe sphere of a given radius along a large set of test lines that are perpendicular to the plane of the interface. The molecules that are hit by the probe spheres are regarded as interfacial ones, and the position of the test spheres when they are in contact with the interfacial molecules give an estimate of the surface. The dependence of the method on various parameters, in particular, on the size of the probe sphere is discussed in detail. Based on the list of molecules identified as truly interfacial ones, two measures of the molecular scale roughness of the surface are proposed. The bivariate distribution of the lateral and normal distances of two points of the interface provides a full description of the molecular scale morphology of the surface in a statistical sense. For practical purposes two parameters related to the dependence of the average normal distance of two surface points on their lateral distance can be used. These two parameters correspond to the frequency and amplitude of the surface roughness, respectively. The new method is applied for the analysis of the molecular level structure of the liquid-vapor interface of water. As an immediate result of the application of the new method it is shown that the orientational preferences of the interfacial water molecules depend only on the local curvature of the interface, and hence the molecules located at wells of concave curvature of the rippled surface prefer the same orientations as waters located at the surface of small apolar solutes. The vast majority of the truly interfacial molecules are found to form a strongly percolating two-dimensional hydrogen bonded network at the surface, whereas no percolation is observed within the second molecular layer beyond the surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)945-956
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Computational Chemistry
Volume29
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 30 2008

Keywords

  • Computer simulation
  • Hydrogen-bonding
  • Interfacial molecules
  • Interfacial orientation
  • Liquid-vapor interface
  • Surface roughness
  • Surface water percolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Computational Mathematics

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