Just Squeeze In — Drexel Researchers Discover When Spaces Are Tight, Nature Loosens Its Laws

It turns out that when they’re in a hurry and space is limited, ions, like people, will find a way to cram in — even if that means defying nature’s norms. Recently published research from an international team of scientists, including Drexel University’s Yury Gogotsi, PhD, shows that the charged particles will actually forgo their “opposites attract” behavior, called Coulombic ordering, when confined in the tiny pores of a nanomaterial. This discovery could be a pivotal development for energy storage, water treatment and alternative energy production technologies, which all involve ions packing into nanoporous materials.

In their paper, which was recently published in the journal Nature Materials, the researchers explain how Coulombic ordering in liquid salts starts to break down when ions are confined in small spaces — specifically carbon pores less than a nanometer in diameter. And the narrower the pore, the less the ions adhere to Coulombic ordering. Read the full press release here.

Find the Nature Materials paper here.

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