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Chem Soc Rev. 2014 Nov 7;43(21):7358-77. doi: 10.1039/c4cs00144c. Epub 2014 Aug 6.

Models and mechanisms of Hofmeister effects in electrolyte solutions, and colloid and protein systems revisited.

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Department of Chemical and Geological Science, University of Cagliari, Italy and CSGI.


Specific effects of electrolytes have posed a challenge since the 1880's. The pioneering work was that of Franz Hofmeister who studied specific salt induced protein precipitation. These effects are the rule rather the exception and are ubiquitous in chemistry and biology. Conventional electrostatic theories (Debye-Hückel, DLVO, etc.) cannot explain such effects. Over the past decades it has been recognised that additional quantum mechanical dispersion forces with associated hydration effects acting on ions are missing from theory. In parallel Collins has proposed a phenomenological set of rules (the law of matching water affinities, LMWA) which explain and bring to order the order of ion-ion and ion-surface site interactions at a qualitative level. The two approaches appear to conflict. Although the need for inclusion of quantum dispersion forces in one form or another is not questioned, the modelling has often been misleading and inappropriate. It does not properly describe the chemical nature (kosmotropic/chaotropic or hard/soft) of the interacting species. The success of the LMWA rules lies in the fact that they do. Here we point to the way that the two apparently opposing approaches might be reconciled. Notwithstanding, there are more challenges, which deal with the effect of dissolved gas and its connection to 'hydrophobic' interactions, the problem of water at different temperatures and 'water structure' in the presence of solutes. They take us to another dimension that requires the rebuilding of theoretical foundations.

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