Bimodal proton transfer in acid-base reactions in water

Matteo Rini, Dina Pines, Ben Zion Magnes, Ehud Pines, Erik T.J. Nibbering

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95 Scopus citations


We investigate one of the fundamental reactions in solutions, the neutralization of an acid by a base. We use a photoacid, 8-hydroxy-1,3,6-trisulfonate-pyrene (HPTS; pyranine), which upon photoexcitation reacts with acetate under transfer of a deuteron (solvent: deuterated water). We analyze in detail the resulting bimodal reaction dynamics between the photoacid and the base, the first report on which was recently published [M. Rini, B.-Z. Magnes, E. Pines, and E. T. J. Nibbering, Science 301, 349 (2003)]. We have ascribed the bimodal proton-transfer dynamics to contributions from preformed hydrogen bonding complexes and from initially uncomplexed acid and base. We report on the observation of an additional (6 ps)-1 contribution to the reaction rate constant. As before, we analyze the slower part of the reaction within the framework of the diffusion model and the fastest part by a static, sub-150 fs reaction rate. Adding the second static term considerably improves the overall modeling of the experimental results. It also allows to connect experimentally the diffusion controlled bimolecular reaction models as defined by Eigen-Weiler and by Collins-Kimball [D. Shoup and A. Szabo, Biophys. J. 40, 33 (1982)]. Our findings are in agreement with a three-stage mechanism for liquid phase intermolecular proton transfer: mutual diffusion of acid and base to form a "loose" encounter complex, followed by reorganization of the solvent shells and by "tightening" of the acid-base encounter complex. These rearrangements last a few picoseconds and enable a prompt proton transfer along the reaction coordinate, which occurs faster than our time resolution of 150 fs. Alternative models for the explanation of the slower "on-contact" reaction time of the loose encounter complex in terms of proton transmission through a von Grotthuss mechanism are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9593-9610
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number19
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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