The number of water molecules in hydroxide’s primary hydration shell has been long debated to be three from the interpretation of experimental data and four from theoretical studies. Here we provide direct evidence for the presence of a fourth water molecule in hydroxide’s primary hydration shell from a combined study based on high resolution cryogenic experimental photoelectron spectroscopy and high-level quantum chemical computations. Well-defined spectra of OH–(H2O)n clusters (n = 2–5) yield accurate electron binding energies, which are, in turn, used as key signatures of the underlying molecular conformations. Although the smaller OH–(H2O)3 and OH–(H2O)4 clusters adopt close-lying conformations with similar electron binding energies that are hard to distinguish, the OH–(H2O)5 cluster clearly has a predominant conformation with a four-coordinated hydroxide binding motif, a finding that unambiguously determines the gas phase coordination number of hydroxide to be four.
Published: April 18, 2023
Cao W., H. Wen, S.S. Xantheas, and X. Wang. 2023.The primary gas phase hydration shell of hydroxide.Science Advances 9, no. 12:Art. No. eadf4309.PNNL-SA-181970.doi:10.1126/sciadv.adf4309