Romain Dupuis
77 Massachusetts Ave, E19-722, Cambridge, MA 02139

Archives de l’auteur

Molecular simulation of silica gels: Formation, dilution, and drying

Romain Dupuis, Laurent Karim Béland, and Roland J.-M. Pellenq

The formation and ageing of gels is a complex issue that has to be resolved to investigate manifold synthetic materials, among them: porous materials such as cement, high-quality glass fiber, and geomaterials for radioactive waste sealing. Herein, a coupling between a grand canonical Monte Carlo and the parallel tempering methods is developed. The gain in simulation time is of, at least, two orders of magnitude; therefore, we are able to move at will on the water to silicon ratio axis and to observe the restructuring of gels during dilution and drying. At high water to silicon ratio, a colloidal-like structure is obtained, mostly constituted of silicate chains. As humidity is an essential aspect of gels, affecting their physical and mechanical properties, the effect of drying is herein investigated. In agreement with experiments, the structure becomes denser, crosslinks between silicate chains increase and glasslike structures are observed locally.


Doping as a Way To Protect Silicate Chains in Calcium Silicate Hydrates

Dupuis, Romain ; Jorge Dolado ; Jose Surga ; Andres Ayuela


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A critical challenge in reducing anthropogenic impacts on the environment is to decrease the carbon footprint of the cement industry. A key concern in the search for more sustainable cement designs is the understanding and control of the depolymerization process that eventually determines the integrity of their silicate chains under mechanical, chemical, or thermal stresses. Herein, we use metadynamics to show that the depolymerization of cement silicate skeletons consists of hydroxylation followed by bond-breaking. We then clarify the local effects of doping the silicate chains: a stable pentacoordinate state following hydroxylation is promoted by aluminum atoms but restrained by phosphorus additions, the presence of two dopants being related to energy landscapes less favorable to bond-breaking. The role of these dopants is explained in cement-based materials and is key to the quest for low-cost opportunities to preserve the strength of cement for high temperatures or even over time.


Tracing Polymerization in Calcium Silicate Hydrates Using Si Isotopic Fractionation

Dupuis, Romain ; Jorge Dolado ; Jose Surga ; Andres Ayuela



Silicate-chains polymerization is a crucial process in calcium silicate hydrate minerals, with large relevance for improving the durability and reducing the environmental impact of cement-based materials. To better understand the evolutionary mechanisms underlying the polymerization of silicate-chains in layered calcium silicate hydrates, we herein propose to trace the evolution of the polymerization degree by using silicon isotopes. The method requires tabulating the isotopic fractionation of several basic chemico–physical mechanisms that we obtained by performing atomistic simulations. The calculations reveal that the highly polymerized structures have longer Si–O bonds and that the Ca2+ cations play a dual role in the stretching and bending mode properties of silicates, such as isotopic fractionation is able to discern not only between the polymerization order of calcium silicate hydrate minerals, but even between cement gels suffering calcium leaching. Silicon isotopic fractionation can, therefore, be used to quantify the different evolutions of calcium silicon hydrate phases in a sample of man-made gel cement in order to improve its sustainability along lifetime stages in the quest for green cement.

Importance of a Fully Anharmonic Treatment of Equilibrium Isotope Fractionation Properties of Dissolved Ionic Species As Evidenced by Li+(aq)

Dupuis, Romain ; Benoit, M. ; Tuckerman, M. E. ; Merlin, M.


Equilibrium fractionation of stable isotopes is critically important in fields ranging from chemistry, including medicinal chemistry, electrochemistry, geochemistry, and nuclear chemistry, to environmental science. The dearth of reliable estimates of equilibrium fractionation factors, from experiment or from natural observations, has created a need for accurate computational approaches. Because isotope fractionation is a purely quantum mechanical phenomenon, exact calculation of fractionation factors is nontrivial. Consequently, a severe approximation is often made, in which it is assumed that the system can be decomposed into a set of independent harmonic oscillators. Reliance on this often crude approximation is one of the primary reasons that theoretical prediction of isotope fractionation has lagged behind experiment. A class of problems for which one might expect the harmonic approximation to perform most poorly is the isotopic fractionation between solid and solution phases.

In order to illustrate the errors associated with the harmonic approximation, we have considered the fractionation of Li isotopes between aqueous solution and phyllosilicate minerals, where we find that the harmonic approximation overestimates isotope fractionation factors by as much as 30% at 25 °C. Lithium is a particularly interesting species to examine, as natural lithium isotope signatures provide information about hydrothermal processes, carbon cycle, and regulation of the Earth’s climate by continental alteration. Further, separation of lithium isotopes is of growing interest in the nuclear industry due to a need for pure 6Li and 7Li isotopes. Moving beyond the harmonic approximation entails performing exact quantum calculations, which can be achieved using the Feynman path integral formulation of quantum statistical mechanics. In the path integral approach, a system of quantum particles is represented as a set of classical-like ring-polymer chains, whose interparticle interactions are determined by the rules of quantum mechanics. Because a classical isomorphism exists between the true quantum system and the system of ring-polymers, classical-like methods can be applied. Recent developments of efficient path integral approaches for the exact calculation of isotope fractionation now allow the case of the aforementioned dissolved Li fractionation properties to be studied in detail. Applying this technique, we find that the calculations yield results that are in good agreement with both experimental data and natural observations. Importantly, path integral methods, being fully atomistic, allow us to identify the origins of anharmonic effects and to make reliable predictions at temperatures that are experimentally inaccessible yet are, nevertheless, relevant for natural phenomena.

Quantum Nuclear Dynamics of Protons within Layered Hydroxides at High Pressure

Dupuis, Romain;  Dolaso, J. S. ; Benoit, M. ; Surga J.; Ayuela A.



Studies of the structure of hydroxides under pressure using neutron diffraction reveal that the high concentration of hydrogen is distributed in a disordered network. The disorder in the hydrogen-bond network and possible phase transitions are reported to occur at pressures within the range accessible to experiments for layered calcium hydroxides, which are considered to be exemplary prototype materials. In this study, the static and dynamical properties of these layered hydroxides are investigated using a quantum approach describing nuclear motion, shown herein to be required particularly when studying diffusion processes involving light hydrogen atoms. The effect of high-pressure on the disordered hydrogen-bond network shows that the protons tunnel back and forth across the barriers between three potential minima around the oxygen atoms. At higher pressures the structure has quasi two-dimensional layers of hydrogen atoms, such that at low temperatures this causes the barrier crossing of the hydrogen to be significantly rarefied. Furthermore, for moderate values of both temperature and pressure this process occurs less often than the usual mechanism of proton transport via vacancies, limiting global proton diffusion within layers at high pressure.

Oral contribution at Ipolymorphs

Title: Aluminium content in polymorphs of calcium-silicate-hydrate

Co-authors: Romain Dupuis, J. Moon, J. Dolado, H. Manzano, P. Monteiro, A. Ayuela

I Polymorphs is a conference organized by DIPC members:

List of the speakers: