Stripping off of the Hydration Shells in the Double Layer Formation: Water Networks Matter


The double layer at the solid/electrolyte interface is a key concept in electrochemistry. Here, we present an experimental study combined with simulations, which provides a molecular picture of the double-layer formation in operando processes. By THz spectroscopy we are able to follow the stripping off of the cation/anion hydration shells for a NaCl electrolyte at the Au surface when decreasing/increasing the bias potential. While Na+ is attracted toward the electrode already at the smallest applied negative potentials, stripping-off of the Cl- hydration shell is observed only at higher potential values. These phenomena are directly measured by in operando THz spectroscopy with ultra-bright synchrotron light as a source and rationalized by accompanying molecular-dynamics simulations and electronic-structure calculations.

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