Dynamics of water next to solid-state surfaces and polymers (ATTIC)

Despite numerous studies of liquid water, its molecular structure has not yet been fully resolved and understanding of its specific properties remains limited. Recent experimental and theoretical studies have shown that interfacial water formed on surfaces of various synthetic materials tends to exhibit long-range order. Specifically, water exhibits unique physicochemical properties next to the super hydrophilic Nafion surface such as the exclusion of solutes and microspheres, higher refractive index and viscosity, absorption at 270 nm, and charge separation susceptible to incident electromagnetic energy. Ordered layers of water molecules have been also found next to biomolecules like proteins or DNA suggesting a dynamic interaction between matter and aqueous media based on hydrogen bonding or other electrostatic interactions. Simulation studies have also shown that water adjacent to graphene surfaces could build an extensive hydrogen bond network suggesting that water might be involved in the p–p interactions between aromatic groups. In the ATTIC project, the water layer built in the vicinity of various surfaces will be extensively investigated at a molecular level by employing dielectric, THZ and Raman spectroscopic techniques. The spectroscopic studies will be initially focused on Nafion and other hydrophilic surfaces and subsequently, the interactions of water with the aromatic groups of graphene will be explored. The last part of the project includes spectroscopic studies next to orthogonally synthesized styrene-based polymers that bear different functionalization to explore how alterations in the electronic density of aromatic groups affect the water dynamics and the overall self-assembly state of polymers in water. This project aims to bridge the gap between diverse experimental and theoretical works on unique water properties and to pave the way for the development of innovative water-based technologies.