Water provides the platform for many important biological, chemical, and physical processes. The interface of water with other materials is ubiquitous, and important for areas as diverse as catalysis, biology, geochemistry, electrochemistry and atmospheric chemistry. Unveiling the microscopic (<1 nm) structure and dynamics of interfacial water is essential for understanding the processes occurring at these various aqueous interfaces.
In bulk, the properties of aqueous solutions (e.g. conductivity or osmotic pressure) strongly depend on the strength of the interaction between water and solutes (e.g. salts or small molecules). It is however also crucial as to how well these solutes fit into the structure of water and to what extent the solutes interrupt water’s liquid structure. To understand such macroscopically relevant properties, we follow the motion and structural evolution of aqueous solutions in real time using advanced spectroscopies together with computer simulations.
At the interface, the network of very strong intermolecular interactions, hydrogen-bonds, is interrupted and the water is affected by the interface. A central question regarding water at interfaces is the extent to which the structure and dynamics of water molecules are influenced by the interruption of the hydrogen-bonded network and thus differ from those of bulk water. We study water using/developing advanced spectroscopies, that allows for new insights into these important systems.
In particular, concerning "water", the department is interested in the following topics:
- interaction of water with interfaces (Backus, Domke, Gonella, Hunger, Parekh, Wang)
- modeling of vibrational spectra of water (Nagata)
- role of water for charge transfer and molecular geometry (Backus, Domke, Gonella, Parekh)
- hydration of biotechnologically relevant solutes (Grechko, Hunger, Parekh)
Together with other MPI-P groups, we are researching the central research topics "Water at interfaces", "Non-equilibrium structure formation" and "Multiscale challenges"