Researchers discover when spaces are tight, nature loosens its laws
Date: Sunday, October 01, 2017 @ 11:34:21 EDT
From Phys.org site: Just squeeze in—researchers discover when spaces are tight, nature loosens its laws
When packed into pore channels as narrow as a nanometer or less, ions will forgo their typical positive-negative alternating charge ordering. They will form a single (right) or double-file (left) line, many times queuing up next to ions of the same charge. Credit: Drexel University
It turns out that when they're in a hurry and space is limited, ions, like people, will find a way to cram in—even if that means defying nature's norms. Recently published research from an international team of scientists, including Drexel University's Yury Gogotsi, PhD, shows that the charged particles will actually forgo their "opposites attract" behavior, called Coulombic ordering, when confined in the tiny pores of a nanomaterial. This discovery could be a pivotal development for energy storage, water treatment and alternative energy production technologies, which all involve ions packing into nanoporous materials.
In their paper, which was recently published in the journal Nature Materials, the researchers explain how Coulombic ordering in liquid salts starts to break down when ions are confined in small spaces—specifically carbon pores less than a nanometer in diameter. And the narrower the pore, the less the ions adhere to Coulombic ordering.
"This is the first time breaking of the Coulombic ordering in subnanometer pores has been convincingly demonstrated," said Gogotsi, an author of the paper, who is the Distinguished University and Bach professor in Drexel's College of Engineering. "The breaking of symmetry principals, like Coulombic ordering, plays an essential role in nature. But many of these processes occur without us understanding them and knowing their mechanisms. Science can reveal those hidden processes. And if we understand them, we can eventually develop better technology by working at the same nanometer and subnanometer scales that nature does."
Full article: https://phys.org/news/2017-09-inresearchers-spaces-tight-nature-loosens.html#jCp