Computer simulation investigation of the water-benzene interface in a broad range of thermodynamic states from ambient to supercritical conditions

Ágnes Keresztúri, Pál Jedlovszky

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The dependence of the properties of the water-benzene system on the thermodynamic conditions in a broad range of temperatures and pressures has been investigated by computer simulation methods. For this purpose, Monte Carlo simulations have been performed at 23 different thermodynamic states, ranging from ambient to supercritical conditions. The density profiles of the water and benzene molecules have been determined at each of the thermodynamic states investigated. Information on the dependence of the mutual solubility of the two components in each other as well as of the width of the interface on the temperature and pressure has been extracted from these profiles. The width of the interface has been found to increase with increasing temperature up to a certain point, where it diverges. The temperature of this divergence corresponds to the mixing of the two phases. The determination of the critical mixing temperature at various pressures allowed us to estimate the upper critical curve, separating the two-phase and one-phase liquid systems, of the phase diagram of the simulated water-benzene system. In analyzing the preferential orientation of the interfacial molecules relative to the interface, it has been found that the main orientational preference of the benzene molecules is to lie parallel with the plane of the interface, and the water molecules penetrated deepest into the benzene phase prefer to stay perpendicular to the interface, pointing by one of their O-H bonds almost straight toward the benzene phase, whereas the waters located at the aqueous side of the interface are preferentially aligned parallel with the interfacial plane. Although the strength of the observed orientational preferences decreases rapidly with increasing temperature, the preferred orientations themselves are found to be independent of the thermodynamic conditions. Remains of the orientational preferences of the molecules are found to be present up to temperatures as high as 650 K. The analysis of the relative orientation of the neighboring water-benzene pairs has revealed that the radius of the first hydration shell of the benzene molecules is independent of the thermodynamic conditions, even if the system consists of one single phase. It has been found that the nearest water neighbors of the benzene molecules are preferentially located above and below the benzene ring, whereas more distant water neighbors, belonging still to the first hydration shell, prefer to stay within the plane of the benzene molecule. In the two-phase systems the dipole vector of the nearest waters has been found to be preferentially perpendicular to the vector pointing from the center of the benzene molecule to the water O atom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16782-16793
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - Sep 8 2005


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry

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