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Quantifying Density Fluctuations in Water at a Hydrophobic Surface: Evidence for Critical Drying

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number1
DatePublished - 2 Jul 2015


Employing smart Monte Carlo sampling techniques within the grand canonical ensemble, we investigate the properties of water at a model hydrophobic substrate. By reducing the strength of substrate-water attraction, we find that fluctuations in the local number density, quantified by a rigorous definition of the local compressibility χ(z), increase rapidly for distances z within one or two molecular diameters from the substrate as the degree of hydrophobicity, measured by the macroscopic contact angle θ, increases. Our simulations provide evidence for a continuous (critical) drying transition as the substrate-water interaction becomes very weak: cos(θ)→-1. We speculate that the existence of such a transition might account for earlier simulation observations of strongly enhanced density fluctuations.


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