The electric double layer governs the processes of all charged surfaces in aqueous solutions, however elucidating the structure of the water molecules is challenging for even the most advanced spectroscopic techniques. Here, we present the individual Stern layer and diffuse layer OH stretching spectra at the silica/water interface in the presence of NaCl over a wide pH range using a combination of vibrational sum frequency generation and heterodyned second harmonic generation techniques and streaming potential measurements. We find that the Stern layer water molecules and diffuse layer water molecules respond differently to pH changes: unlike the diffuse layer, whose water molecules remain net-oriented in one direction, water molecules in the Stern layer flip their net orientation as the solution pH is reduced from basic to acidic. We obtain an experimental estimate of the non-Gouy-Chapman (Stern) potential contribution to the total potential drop across the insulator/electrolyte interface and discuss it in the context of dipolar, quadrupolar, and cross-term potential contributions. We quantify how these contributions result in a considerable influence on the vibrational lineshapes. Our findings show that a purely Gouy-Chapman (Stern) view is insufficient to accurately describe the electrical double layer of aqueous interfaces.
Provided additional experimental data. Improved upon charge-overcompensation and remaining non-Gouy-Chapman-Stern potential discussions. Replaced Figure 4.
Supporting Information: Water Structure in the Electrical Double Layer and the Contributions to the Total Interfacial Potential at Different Surface Charge Densities