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Direct Experimental Observations of Ion Distributions during Overcharging at the Muscovite‐Water Interface by Adsorption of Rb+ and Halides (Cl−, Br−, I−) at High Salinity

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Classical electric double layer (EDL) models fail to describe ion distributions at charged solid-liquid interfaces at high salinity, where non-classical effects such as ion-ion correlations play a role. Here, the authors report the direct experimental determination of interfacial cation and anion distributions yielding new insights into the EDL structure and the associated adsorption isotherm data in the overcharging regime.


Classical electric double layer (EDL) models have been widely used to describe ion distributions at charged solid-water interfaces in dilute electrolytes. However, the chemistry of EDLs remains poorly constrained at high ionic strength where ion-ion correlations control non-classical behavior such as overcharging, i. e., the accumulation of counter-ions in amounts exceeding the substrate's surface charge. Here, we provide direct experimental observations of correlated cation and anion distributions adsorbed at the muscovite (001)-aqueous electrolyte interface as a function of dissolved RbBr concentration ([RbBr]=0.01–5.8 M) using resonant anomalous X-ray reflectivity. Our results show alternating cation-anion layers in the EDL when [RbBr]≳100 mM, whose spatial extension (i. e., ~20 Å from the surface) far exceeds the dimension of the classical Stern layer. Comparison to RbCl and RbI electrolytes indicates that these behaviors are sensitive to the choice of co-ion. This new in-depth molecular-scale understanding of the EDL structure during transition from classical to non-classical regimes supports the development of realistic EDL models for technologies operating at high salinity such as water purification applications or modern electrochemical storage.

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