Enhancing the kinetics of liquid-vapor transition from nanoscale confinements is an attractive strategy for developing evaporation and separation applications. The ultimate limit of confinement for evaporation is an atom thick interface hosting angstrom-scale nanopores. Herein, using a combined experimental/computational approach, we report highly enhanced water evaporation rates when angstrom sized oxygen-functionalized graphene nanopores are placed at the liquid-vapor interface. The evaporation flux increases for the smaller nanopores with an enhancement up to 35-fold with respect to the bare liquid-vapor interface. Molecular dynamics simulations reveal that oxygen-functionalized nanopores render rapid rotational and translational dynamics to the water molecules due to a reduced and short-lived water-water hydrogen bonding. The potential of mean force (PMF) reveals that the free energy barrier for water evaporation decreases in the presence of nanopores at the atomically thin interface, which further explains the enhancement in evaporation flux. These findings can enable the development of energy-efficient technologies relying on water evaporation.
Keywords: enhancement; evaporation kinetics; graphene nanopores; molecular dynamics; phase transition; water evaporation.