5 years ago

Aqueous Solvation of Ammonia and Ammonium: Probing Hydrogen Bond Motifs with FT-IR and Soft X-ray Spectroscopy

Aqueous Solvation of Ammonia and Ammonium: Probing Hydrogen Bond Motifs with FT-IR and Soft X-ray Spectroscopy
Philippe Wernet, Łukasz Szyc, Wilson Quevedo, Maria Ekimova, Erik T. J. Nibbering, Michael Odelius, Marcella Iannuzzi
In a multifaceted investigation combining local soft X-ray and vibrational spectroscopic probes with ab initio molecular dynamics simulations, hydrogen-bonding interactions of two key principal amine compounds in aqueous solution, ammonia (NH3) and ammonium ion (NH4+), are quantitatively assessed in terms of electronic structure, solvation structure, and dynamics. From the X-ray measurements and complementary determination of the IR-active hydrogen stretching and bending modes of NH3 and NH4+ in aqueous solution, the picture emerges of a comparatively strongly hydrogen-bonded NH4+ ion via N–H donating interactions, whereas NH3 has a strongly accepting hydrogen bond with one water molecule at the nitrogen lone pair but only weakly N–H donating hydrogen bonds. In contrast to the case of hydrogen bonding among solvent water molecules, we find that energy mismatch between occupied orbitals of both the solutes NH3 and NH4+ and the surrounding water prevents strong mixing between orbitals upon hydrogen bonding and, thus, inhibits substantial charge transfer between solute and solvent. A close inspection of the calculated unoccupied molecular orbitals, in conjunction with experimentally measured N K-edge absorption spectra, reveals the different nature of the electronic structural effects of these two key principal amine compounds imposed by hydrogen bonding to water, where a pH-dependent excitation energy appears to be an intrinsic property. These results provide a benchmark for hydrogen bonding of other nitrogen-containing acids and bases.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jacs.7b07207

DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b07207

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