Structure and dynamics of confined alcohol-water mixtures

Pantelis Bampoulis*, Jorn P. Witteveen, E. Stefan Kooij, Detlef Lohse, Bene Poelsema, Harold J.W. Zandvliet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
154 Downloads (Pure)


The effect of confinement between mica and graphene on the structure and dynamics of alcohol–water mixtures has been studied in situ and in real time at the molecular level by atomic force microscopy (AFM) at room temperature. AFM images reveal that the adsorbed molecules are segregated into faceted alcohol-rich islands on top of an ice layer on mica, surrounded by a pre-existing multilayer water-rich film. These faceted islands are in direct contact with the graphene surface, revealing a preferred adsorption site. Moreover, alcohol adsorption at low relative humidity (RH) reveals a strong preference of the alcohol molecules for the ordered ice interface. The growth dynamics of the alcohol islands is governed by supersaturation, temperature, the free energy of attachment of molecules to the island edge and two-dimensional (2D) diffusion. The measured diffusion coefficients display a size dependence on the molecular size of the alcohols, and are about 6 orders of magnitude smaller than the bulk diffusion coefficients, demonstrating the effect of confinement on the behavior of the alcohols. These experimental results provide new insights into the behavior of multicomponent fluids in confined geometries, which is of paramount importance in nanofluidics and biology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6762-6768
JournalACS nano
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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