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Molecular Structure of Water at Gold Electrodes Revealed
A team utilizing three Berkeley Lab user facilities have developed a method to look at the molecules next to an electrode's surface, as well as determine how their arrangement changes depending on the voltage.
Significance and Impact
Combining experimental and theoretical approaches enables a fundamental understanding of electrochemical reactions, with applications in electrocatalysis, photochemistry, and energy storage.
- Because x-rays are attenuated by matter, such characterization experiments are typically done in vacuum. A unique stage (shown in figure) was built to collect data in water.
- Brought together through the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), theorists at the Molecular Foundry using the supercomputing facilities of NERSC, developed new ways to translate x-ray data, measured by an ALS user.
- It was found that a gold electrode’s charge can influence whether a water molecule binds to the surface or to other water molecules.
J. J. Velasco-Velez, C. H. Wu, T. A. Pascal, L. F. Wan, J. Guo, D. Prendergast & M. Salmeron. Science 2014 [epub].