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J Chem Phys. 2005 Sep 22;123(12):124313.

The elimination of a hydrogen atom in Na(H2O)n.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Centre for Scientific Modeling and Computation, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong, China.


By a systematic examination on Na(H2O)n, with n = 4-7, 9, 10, and 15, we demonstrate that a hydrogen loss reaction can be initiated by a single sodium atom with water molecules. This reaction is similar to the well-known size-dependent intracluster hydrogen loss in Mg+(H2O)n, which is isoelectronic to Na(H2O)n. However, with one less charge on Na(H2O)n than that on Mg+(H2O)n, the hydrogen loss for Na(H2O)n is characterized by a higher barrier and a more flexible solvation shell around the metal ion, although the reaction should be accessible, as the lowest barrier is around 8 kcal/mol. Interestingly, the hydroxide ion OH- produced in the process is stabilized by the solvation of H2O molecules and the formation of an ion pair Na+(H2O)4(H2O)n-l-4[OH-(H2O)l]. The activation barrier is reduced as the unpaired electron in Na(H2O)n moves to higher solvation shells with increasing cluster size, and the reaction is not switched off for larger clusters. This is in sharp contrast to the reaction for Mg+(H2O)n, in which the OH- ion is stabilized by direct coordination with Mg2+ and the reaction is switched off for n > 17, as the unpaired electron moved to higher solvation shells. Such a contrast illustrates the important link between microsolvation environment and chemical reactivity in solvation clusters.

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