Insight into the interface between Fe3O4 (001) surface and water overlayers through multiscale molecular dynamics simulations

by H. Liu, E. Bianchetti, P. Siani and C. Di Valentin

J. Chem. Phys. 2020, 152, pp 124711 View at Publisher

DOI: 10.1063/1.5140268

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In this work, we investigate the Fe3O4 (001) surface/water interface by combining several theoretical approaches, ranging from a hybrid functional method (HSE06) to density-functional tight-binding (DFTB) to molecular mechanics (MM). First, we assess the accuracy of the DFTB method to correctly reproduce HSE06 results on structural details and energetics and available experimental data for adsorption of isolated water, dimers, and trimers up to a water monolayer. Second, we build two possible configurations of a second and a third overlayer and perform molecular dynamics simulations with DFTB, monitoring the water orientation, the H-bond network, and the ordered water structure formation. To make our models more realistic, we then build a 12 nm-thick water multilayer on top of the Fe3O4 (001) surface slab model, which we investigate through MM-molecular dynamics (MD). The water layer structuring, revealed by the analysis of the atomic positions from a long MM-MD run for this large MM model, extends up to about 6–7 Å and nicely compares with that observed for a water trilayer model. However, MM and DFTB MD simulations show some discrepancy due to the poor description of the Fe⋯OH2 distance in MM that calls for further work in the parameterization of the model.