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Anomalously Enhanced Hydration of Aqueous Electrolyte Solution in Hydrophobic Carbon Nanotubes to Maintain Stability



An understanding of the structure and behavior of electrolyte solutions in nanoenvironements is crucial not only for a wide variety of applications, but also for the development of physical, chemical, and biological processes. We demonstrate the structure and stability of electrolyte in carbon nanotubes using hybrid reverse Monte Carlo simulations of X-ray diffraction patterns. Hydrogen bonds between water are adequately formed in carbon nanotubes, although some hydrogen bonds are restricted by the interfaces of carbon nanotubes. The hydrogen bonding network of water in electrolyte in the carbon nanotubes is further weakened. On the other hand, formation of the ion hydration shell is significantly enhanced in the electrolyte in the carbon nanotubes in comparison to ion hydration in bulk electrolyte. The significant hydrogen bond and hydration shell formation are a result of gaining stability in the hydrophobic nanoenvironment.