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How Solutes Modify the Thermodynamics and Dynamics of Filling and Emptying in Extreme Ink-Bottle Pores

Abstract : We investigate the filling and emptying of extreme ink-bottle porous media—micrometer-scale pores connected by nanometer-scale pores—when changing the pressure of the external vapor, in a case where the pore liquid contains solutes. These phenomena are relevant in diverse contexts, such as the weathering of building materials and artwork, aerosol formation in the atmosphere, and the hydration of soils and plants. Using model systems made of vein-shaped microcavities interconnected by a mesoporous matrix, we show experimentally that the presence of a nonvolatile solute shifts the condensation and evaporation transitions and in a way that is consistent with a modified Kelvin–Laplace equation that takes into account the osmotic pressure of the solution. Emptying occurs far below saturation, when the Kelvin stress, mediated by the large curvature of the liquid–vapor interfaces in the nanopores, is negative enough to induce spontaneous bubble nucleation in the microveins. Filling, on the other hand, occurs close to equilibrium (i.e., at saturation, psat for pure water and ps < psat for a solution), driven by the weak capillary pressure of the liquid–vapor interface in the microveins. Interestingly, solutes allow the system to reach situations where the vapor is supersaturated with respect to the solution (ps < p < psat). We show that in that latter situation, a condensation layer covers the outer surface of the porous system, preventing the generation of Kelvin stresses but inducing osmotic stresses and flows that are vapor pressure-dependent. The timescales and dynamics reflect these different driving forces: emptying proceeds through discrete, stochastic nucleation events with very fast, unsteady bubble growth associated with a poroelastic relaxation process, while filling occurs collectively in all veins of the sample through a slower steady-state process driven by a combination of osmosis and capillarity. The dynamics can however be rendered symmetrical between filling and emptying if bubbles pre-exist during emptying, a case that we explore using cycling of the vapor pressure around equilibrium.
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Olivier O. Vincent, Jiamin Zhang, Eugene Choi, Siyu Zhu, Abraham Stroock. How Solutes Modify the Thermodynamics and Dynamics of Filling and Emptying in Extreme Ink-Bottle Pores. Langmuir, 2019, 35 (8), pp.2934-2947. ⟨10.1021/acs.langmuir.8b03494⟩. ⟨hal-02364969⟩



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