Curvature Induced L-Defects in Water Conduction in Carbon Nanotubes


U. Zimmerli, P. G. Gonnet, J. H. Walther, P. Koumoutsakos, Nano Letters, 5(6), 1017-1022, 2005



We conduct molecular dynamics simulations to study the effect of the curvature induced static dipole moment of small open-ended single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) immersed in water. This dipole moment generates a nonuniform electric field, changing the energy landscape in the CNT and altering the water conduction process. The CNT remains practically filled with water at all times, whereas intermittent filling is observed when the dipole term is not included. In addition, the dipole moment induces a preferential orientation of the water molecules near the end regions of the nanotube, which in turn causes a reorientation of the water chain in the middle of the nanotube. The most prominent feature of this reorientation is an L-defect in the chain of water molecules inside the CNT. The analysis of the water energetics and structural characteristics inside and in the vicinity of the CNT helps to identify the role of the dipole moment and to suggest possible mechanisms for controlled water and proton transport at the nanoscale