Complexation reactions in pyridine and 2,6-dimethylpyridine-water system: The quantum-chemical description and the path to liquid phase separation

Zelig Chernia, Yoav Tsori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Phase separation in substituted pyridines in water is usually described as an interplay between temperature-driven breakage of hydrogen bonds and the associating interaction of the van der Waals force. In previous quantum-chemical studies, the strength of hydrogen bonding between one water and one pyridine molecules (the 1:1 complex) was assigned a pivotal role. It was accepted that the disassembly of the 1:1 complex at a critical temperature leads to phase separation and formation of the miscibility gap. Yet, for over two decades, notable empirical data and theoretical arguments were presented against that view, thus revealing the need in a revised quantum-mechanical description. In the present study, pyridine-water and 2,6-dimethylpyridine-water systems at different complexation stages are calculated using high level Kohn-Sham theory. The hydrophobic-hydrophilic properties are accounted for by the polarizable continuum solvation model. Inclusion of solvation in free energy of formation calculations reveals that 1:1 complexes are abundant in the organically rich solvents but higher level oligomers (i.e., 2:1 dimers with two pyridines and one water molecule) are the only feasible stable products in the more polar media. At the critical temperature, the dissolution of the external hydrogen bonds between the 2:1 dimer and the surrounding water molecules induces the demixing process. The 1:1 complex acts as a precursor in the formation of the dimers but is not directly involved in the demixing mechanism. The existence of the miscibility gap in one pyridine-water system and the lack of it in another is explained by the ability of the former to maintain stable dimerization. Free energy of formation of several reaction paths producing the 2:1 dimers is calculated and critically analyzed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104306
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - 14 Mar 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Complexation reactions in pyridine and 2,6-dimethylpyridine-water system: The quantum-chemical description and the path to liquid phase separation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this