Despite much effort being devoted to the study of ionic aqueous solutions at the nanoscale, our fundamental understanding of the microscopic kinetic and thermodynamic behaviors in these systems remains largely incomplete. Herein, we reported the first 10 μs molecular dynamics simulation, providing evidence of the spontaneous formation of monolayer hexagonal honeycomb hydrated salts of XCl2·6H2O (X = Ba, Sr, Ca, and Mg) from electrolyte aqueous solutions confined in an angstrom-scale slit under ambient conditions. By using both the classical molecular dynamics simulations and the first-principles Born-Oppenheimer molecular dynamics simulations, we further demonstrated that the hydrated salts were stable not only at ambient temperature but also at elevated temperatures. This phenomenon of formation of hydrated salt in water is contrary to the conventional view. The free energy calculations and dehydration analyses indicated that the spontaneous formation of hydrated salts can be attributed to the interplay between ion hydration and Coulombic attractions in the highly confined water. In addition to providing molecular-level insights into the novel behavior of ionic aqueous solutions at the nanoscale, our findings may have implications for the future exploration of potential existence of water molecules in the saline deposits on hot planets.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry