Fluids confined in a nanoscale space behave differently than in the bulk due to strong interactions between fluid molecules and solid atoms. Here, we observed water confined inside "open" hydrophilized carbon nanotubes (CNT), with diameter of tens of nanometers, using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). A 1-7 nm water film adhering to most of the inner wall surface was observed and remained stable in the high vacuum (order of 10-5 Pa) of the TEM. The superstability of this film was attributed to a combination of curvature, nanoroughness, and confinement resulting in a lower vapor pressure for water and hence inhibiting its vaporization. Occasional, suspended ultrathin water film with thickness of 3-20 nm were found and remained stable inside the CNT. This film thickness is 1 order of magnitude smaller than the critical film thickness (about 40 nm) reported by the Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek theory and previous experimental investigations. The stability of the suspended ultrathin water film is attributed to the additional molecular interactions due to the extended water meniscus, which balances the rest of the disjoining pressures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanical Engineering