Ultrafast dynamics of hydrogen bond exchange in aqueous ionic solutions

Sungnam Park, Michael Odelius, Kelly J. Gaffney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


The structural and dynamical properties of aqueous ionic solutions influence a wide range of natural and biological processes. In these solutions, water has the opportunity to form hydrogen bonds with other water molecules and anions. Knowing the time scale with which these configurations interconvert represents a key factor to understanding the influence of molecular scale heterogeneity on chemical events in aqueous ionic solutions. We have used ultrafast IR spectroscopy and Car-Parrinello molecular dynamics (CPMD) simulations to investigate the hydrogen bond (H-bond) structural dynamics in aqueous 6 M sodium Perchlorate (NaClO4) solution. We have measured the H-bond exchange dynamics between spectrally distinct water-water and water-anion H-bond configurations with 2DIR spectroscopy and the orientational relaxation dynamics of water molecules in different H-bond configurations with polarization-selective IR pump-probe experiments. The experimental H-bond exchange time correlates strongly with the experimental orientational relaxation time of water molecules. This agrees with prior observations in water and aqueous halide solutions, and has been interpreted within the context of an orientational jump model for the H-bond exchange. The CPMD simulations performed on aqueous 6 M NaClO4 solution clearly demonstrate that water molecules organize into two radially and angularly distinct structural subshells within the first solvation shell of the Perchlorate anion, with one subshell possessing the majority of the water molecules that donate H-bonds to Perchlorate anions and the other subshell possessing predominantly water molecules that donate two H-bonds to other water molecules. Due to the high ionic concentration used in the simulations, essentially all water molecules reside in the first ionic solvation shells. The CPMD simulations also demonstrate that the molecular exchange between these two structurally distinct subshells proceeds more slowly than the H-bond exchange between the two spectrally distinct H-bond configurations. We interpret this to indicate that orientational motions predominantly dictate the rate of H-bond exchange, while translational diffusion must occur to complete the molecular exchange between the two structurally distinct subshells around the Perchlorate anions. The 2DIR measurements observe the H-bond exchange between the two spectrally distinct H-bond configurations, but the lifetime of the hydroxyl stretch precludes the observation of the slower molecular exchange. Our 2DIR experiments and CPMD simulations demonstrate that orientational motions predominantly equilibrate water molecules within their local solvation subshells, but the full molecular equilibration within the first solvation shell around the Perchlorate anion necessitates translational motion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7825-7835
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Jun 4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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