Relation between Double Layer Structure, Capacitance, and Surface Tension in Electrowetting of Graphene and Aqueous Electrolytes

Robert Dryfe, Paola Carbone, Joshua Elliott, Athanasios Papaderakis, Zixuan Wei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deciphering the mechanisms of charge storage on carbon-based materials is pivotal for the development of next-generation electrochemical energy storage systems. Graphene, the building block of graphitic electrodes, is an ideal model for probing such processes on a fundamental level. Herein, we investigate the thermodynamics of the graphene/aqueous electrolyte interface by utilizing a multiscale quantum mechanics-classical molecular dynamics (QM/MD) approach to provide insights into the effect of alkali metal ion (Li+) concentration on the interfacial tension (gamma(SL)) of the charged graphene/electrolyte interface. We demonstrate that the dependence of gamma(SL) on the applied surface charge exhibits an asymmetric behavior relative to the neutral surface. At the positively charged graphene sheet, the electrowetting response is amplified by electrolyte concentration, resulting in a strongly hydrophilic surface. On the contrary, at negative potential bias, gamma(SL) shows a weaker response to the charging of the electrode. Changes in gamma(SL) greatly affect the total areal capacitance predicted by the Young-Lippmann equation but have a negligible impact on the simulated total areal capacitance, indicating that the EDL structure is not directly correlated with the wettability of the surface and different interfacial mechanisms drive the two phenomena. The proposed model is validated experimentally by studying the electrowetting response of highly oriented pyrolytic graphite over a wide range of electrolyte concentrations. Our work presents the first combined theoretical and experimental study on electrowetting using carbon surfaces, introducing new conceptual routes for the investigation of wetting phenomena under potential bias.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-772
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2023


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