The Role of Ions on the Surface-Bound Water Structure at the Silica/Water Interface: Identifying the Spectral Signature of Stability

30 November 2020, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


We explore the influence of salt addition on the structure of water interacting closely with a charged silica surface. Isolating these surface effects is challenging, even with surface-specific techniques like sum frequency generation (SFG), because of the presence of aligned water nanometers to microns away from the charged silica. Here we combine zeta potential and SFG intensity measurements with the maximum entropy method and reported heterodyne second harmonic and sum frequency generation results to deconvolute from the total signal intensity the SFG spectral contributions of the waters adjacent to the surface. Deconvolution reveals that at very low ionic strength the surface water structure is similar to that of a neutral silica surface near the point of zero charge with waters oriented in opposite directions. This result suggests the known metastability of silica near the PZC and the stability of silica in low ionic strength solutions may originate from the same source, these oppositely oriented surface-bound waters. Orientation changes are induced upon adding salt, which lead to a decrease in the total amount of aligned water at the surface.


sum frequency generation
second harmonic generation
nonlinear optics
ultrafast laser
zeta potential
streaming current
surface potential
Maximum entropy method
surface water
bonded interfacial layer
diffuse layer
stern layer
electric double layer

Supplementary materials

Rehl Supporting Information


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