Local Electric Fields in Aqueous Electrolytes

CI Drexler and OM Cracchiolo and RL Myers and HI Okur and AL Serrano and SA Corcelli and PS Cremer, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B, 125, 8484-8493 (2021).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.1c03257

Vibrational Stark shifts were explored in aqueous solutions of organic molecules with carbonyl- and nitrile-containing constituents. In many cases, the vibrational resonances from these moieties shifted toward lower frequency as salt was introduced into solution. This is in contrast to the blue-shift that would be expected based upon Onsager's reaction field theory. Salts containing well-hydrated cations like Mg2+ or Li+ led to the most pronounced Stark shift for the carbonyl group, while poorly hydrated cations like Cs+ had the greatest impact on nitriles. Moreover, salts containing I- gave rise to larger Stark shifts than those containing Cl-. Molecular dynamics simulations indicated that cations and anions both accumulate around the probe in an ion- and probe-dependent manner. An electric field was generated by the ion pair, which pointed from the cation to the anion through the vibrational chromophore. This resulted from solvent-shared binding of the ions to the probes, consistent with their positions in the Hofmeister series. The "anti-Onsager" Stark shifts occur in both vibrational spectroscopy and fluorescence measurements.

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