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J Phys Chem B. 2009 Aug 6;113(31):10760-9. doi: 10.1021/jp900092g.

Understanding the structure of aqueous cesium chloride solutions by combining diffraction experiments, molecular dynamics simulations, and reverse Monte Carlo modeling.

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Research Institute for Solid State Physics and Optics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, H-1525 Budapest, P.O. Box 49, Hungary.


A detailed study of the microscopic structure of an electrolyte solution, cesium chloride (CsCl) in water, is presented. For revealing the influence of salt concentration on the structure, CsCl solutions at concentrations of 1.5, 7.5, and 15 mol % are investigated. For each concentration, we combine total scattering structure factors from neutron and X-ray diffraction and 10 partial radial distribution functions from molecular dynamics simulations in one single structural model, generated by reverse Monte Carlo modeling. This combination of computer modeling methods is capable of (a) showing the extent to which simulation results are consistent with experimental diffraction data and (b) tracking down distribution functions in computer simulation that are the least comfortable with diffraction data. For the present solutions, we show that the level of consistency between simulations that use simple pair potentials and experimental structure factors is nearly quantitative. Remaining inconsistencies seem to be caused by water-water distribution functions. Changing the pair potentials of water-water interactions from SPC/E to TIP4P-2005 has not had any effect in this respect. As a final result, we obtained particle configurations from reverse Monte Carlo modeling that were in quantitative agreement with both diffraction data and most of the molecular dynamics (MD) simulated partial radial distribution functions (prdf's). From the particle coordinates, the distribution of the number of first neighbors, as well as angular correlation functions, were calculated. The average number of water molecules around cations decreases from about 8 to about 6.5 as concentration increases from 1.5 to 15 mol %, whereas the same quantity for the anions changes from about 7 to about 5. It was also found that the average angle of Cl...H-O particle arrangements, characteristic of anion-water hydrogen bonds, is closer to 180 degrees than that found for O...H-O arrangements (water-water hydrogen bonds). The present combination of experimental and computer simulation methods appears to be promising for the study of other electrolyte solutions.

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