Using nonlinear optics, we show that acid-base chemistry at aqueous/solid interfaces tracks bulk pH changes at low salt concentrations. In the presence of 10 to 100 mM salt concentrations, however, the interfacial acid-base chemistry remains jammed for hours, until it finally occurs within minutes at a rate that follows the kinetic salt effect. For various alkali halide salts, the delay times increase with increasing anion polarizability and extent of cation hydration and lead to massive hysteresis in interfacial acid-base titrations. The resulting implications for pH cycling in these systems are that interfacial systems can spatially and temporally lag bulk acid-base chemistry when the Debye length approaches 1 nm.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry