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J Am Chem Soc. 2006 Nov 15;128(45):14519-27.

Spectroscopic studies of solvated hydrogen and hydroxide ions at aqueous surfaces.

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  • 1Materials Science Institute and Department of Chemistry, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403, USA.


Measuring the molecular properties of the surface of acidic and basic aqueous solutions is essential to understanding a wide range of important biological, chemical, and environmental processes on our planet. In the present studies, vibrational sum-frequency spectroscopy (VSFS) is employed in combination with isotopic dilution experiments at the vapor/water interface to elucidate the interfacial water structure as the pH is varied with HCl and NaOH. In acidic solutions, solvated proton species are seen throughout the interfacial region, and they alter the hydrogen bonding between water molecules in ways that reflect their depth in the interfacial region. At the higher frequencies of the OH stretch region, there is spectral evidence for solvated proton species residing in the topmost layers of the interfacial region. As reported in previous VSF studies, more strongly bound solvated proton species are observed at lower OH stretching frequencies. The solvated proton species that have stronger hydrogen bonding are similar in structure to those found in bulk acid solutions and likely reside somewhat deeper in the interfacial region. There is also evidence of OH stretching from solvated protons and relatively strong hydrogen bonding in the solvation sphere that is similar to other solvated ions. In contrast, water molecules solvating OH(-) ions show relatively weak hydrogen bonding and significantly less interfacial order. VSF spectra are acquired under multiple polarizations to provide crucial information for the interpretation of the spectra and for the determination of interfacial structure.

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