Relaxation to equilibrium following photoacid dissociation in mineral acids and buffer solutions

D. Pines, E. T.J. Nibbering, E. Pines

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The relaxation to the dissociation equilibrium of a weak acid undergoing a transient pKa change in the presence of a strong mineral acid has been the subject of considerable interest both experimentally and theoretically. Here we compare this process with the analogue event taking place in a buffer solution of a weak carboxylic acid. The comparison has been performed in identical pH and ionic strength conditions and at a sufficiently short timescale where the buffer can only affect the weak acid relaxation by proton scavenging. Although the two relaxation processes have been found to differ in their temporal behaviour, they have both resulted in identical equilibrium amplitudes of the photoacid. This observation reassures the well-known chemical wisdom that pKa values measured in buffer solutions do not depend on the specific chemical reactivity of the buffer. We analyse the essentially many-body relaxation problem in terms of a re-normalized geminate recombination reaction which persists over longer times than the exponential relaxation to equilibrium of homogenously distributed populations of the reactants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number065134
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number6
StatePublished - 14 Feb 2007


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