Atomistic simulations of structural and dynamical properties of liquids under geometric constraints
Abstract: The statistical-mechanical description of liquids represents a formidable problem in physic due to the absence of the analytical theory of the liquid state. Atomistic simulations represent a unique source of information in this respect and can be implemented in order address macroscopically measurable liquid properties, including its structure and dynamics, based on the information of the interactions between its constituent molecules. A particularly intriguing challenge is represented by the problem of studying liquids under geometric constraints like surfaces, or where the dimensionality is strongly suppressed like for liquids in 2 dimensions. Experimental measurements cannot access to these regions due to the resolution limitations. In this thesis the study of confined liquids is achieved by particle-based simulations at different level of theory. In particular 3 study cases are considered: the first is the characterization of solid-liquid interfaces. The problem of adsorbing surfaces is treated as a specific case of inorganic surfaces in contact with liquid water. TiO2, chosen as reference material, is studied in its polymorphic structures in aqueous conditions. The surface reactivity and its influence on the liquid structure is solved considering the quantum nature of the system. The mechanism of a solute adsorbing at the interface, considering the interfacial liquid properties, is also addressed. New advanced analysis tools for determining the structural and dynamical properties of water under a surface confinement and the thermodynamic associated to relative adsorption processes are developed. We are confident that this study will represent a mile stone for a systematic study of complex environments as bio-inorganic interfaces. As second case a liquid confined in a 2D surface is studied. Simple liquids having spherically symmetric interaction are very powerful in order to understand the relevant degrees of freedom that governs a certain physical process. Here we expand the definition of 2D hexatic phases to smectic systems in 3D. Finally the self-assembly of a triply periodic mesophase having a Fddd space symmetry group is fully characterized for a simple liquid. This phase can be thought as a geometrical reduction to a two-dimensional separation surface. The possibility of generating such complex network with simple particles, like in colloids, opens the frontiers for the exploration of new materials and applications.
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