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Hydration layer structure at solid–water interfaces

  • Paul Fenter (a1) and Sang Soo Lee (a2)

The solid–water interface is ubiquitous in natural and synthetic systems as the primary site for chemical reactions under near-ambient conditions. Examples include the interactions of contaminants with mineral–water interfaces in natural environments, electrochemical reactions at the electrode-electrolyte interface relevant to energy storage (e.g., ion adsorption/electrical double layer formation, ion insertion), and oxidation of structural materials (e.g., rust). Yet many of these phenomena remain largely mysterious at a mechanistic level. The x-ray reflectivity technique, using highly penetrating hard x-rays, directly probes the solid–water interfaces through in situ studies. This approach has provided new insights into the molecular-scale structures and processes that occur at these “wet” interfaces. In this article, we review recent advances in the understanding of these systems, focusing specifically on the organization of interfacial “hydration layers” and the important role of adsorbed ions at charged solid–liquid interfaces.

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MRS Bulletin
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