Molecular simulation evidence for solidlike adsorbate in complex carbonaceous micropore structures

Mark J. Biggs*, Alex Buts, David Williamson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Adsorption of a model nitrogen vapor on a range of complex nanoporous carbon structures is simulated by grand canonical Monte Carlo simulation for a single subcritical temperature above the bulk freezing point. Adsorption and desorption isotherms, heats of adsorption, and three-dimensional singlet distribution functions (SDFs) were generated. Inspection of the SDFs reveals significant levels of solidlike adsorbate at saturation even in the most complex of the microporous solids considered. This strongly suggests that solidlike adsorbate will also occur for simple subcritical vapors adsorbed on real noncrystalline solids such as microporous carbons at temperatures above the bulk freezing point, supporting indirect experimental observations. The presence of significant levels of solidlike adsorbate has implications for characterization of microporous solids where adsorbate density is used (e.g., determination of pore volume from loading). Detailed consideration of the SDF at different loadings for a model microporous solid indicates solidlike adsorbate forms at distributed points throughout the pore space at pressures dependent on the nature of the local porosity. The nature of the local porosity also dictates the freezing mechanism. A local freezing/ melting/refreezing process is also observed. Introduction of mesoporosity into the model causes hysteresis between the adsorption and desorption isotherms. Adsorption in the hysteresis loop occurs by a series of local condensation events. It appears as if the presence of adjacent microporosity and/or adsorbate within it affects the pressure at which these events occur. Reversal of the condensation during desorption occurs throughout the mesoporosity at a single pressure; this pressure is unaffected by the presence of adjacent microporosity or the adsorbate within it. It is also shown that the empirical concept of "pore size" is not consistent for describing adsorption in the complex solids considered here. A new concept is, therefore, proposed that seeks to account for the factors that affect local adsorption energy: local geometry, microtexture, surface atom density, and surface chemistry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5786-5800
Number of pages15
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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