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J Phys Chem Lett. 2018 Aug 2;9(15):4282-4286. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.8b01825. Epub 2018 Jul 17.

Entropy-Driven Spontaneous Reaction in Cryogenic Ice: Dissociation of Fluoroacetic Acids.

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Department of Chemistry , Seoul National University , 1 Gwanak-ro , Seoul 08826 , Republic of Korea.


Chemical reactions are extremely difficult to occur in ice at low temperature, where atoms and molecules are frozen in position with minimal thermal energy and entropy. Contrary to this general behavior, certain weak acids including fluoroacetic acids dissociate spontaneously and more efficiently in cryogenic ice than in aqueous solution at room temperaure. The enhanced reactivity of weak acids is an unexpected consequence of proton-transfer equilibrium in ice. The configurational entropy of protons in ice shifts the acid dissociation equilibrium forward. This configurational entropy, although a solid-state property, is comparatively large in magnitude with the entropy of vaporization and can effectively drive proton-transfer reactions in ice.

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