What do far-infrared spectra of solitary water in "water-in-solvent" systems reveal about water's solvation and dynamics?

S Palchowdhury and K Mukherjee and M Maroncelli, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 159, 034502 (2023).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0156511

Classical molecular dynamics simulations of water in ionic and dipolar solvents were used to interpret the far-infrared (FIR) rotation/libration spectra of "solitary water" in terms of water's rotational dynamics and interactions with solvents. Seven solvents represented by nonpolarizable all-atom force fields and a series of idealized variable-charge solvents were used to span the range of solvent polarities (hydrogen bonding) studied experimentally. Simulated spectra capture the solvent dependence observed, as well as the relationship between the frequencies of water libration (v(L)) and OH stretching bands (v(OH)). In more strongly interacting solvents, simulated v(L) are similar to 20% higher than those of experiment. In all solvents, the simulated spectra are composites of rotational motions about the two axes perpendicular to water's dipole moment, and the different frequencies of these two motions are responsible for the breadth of the libration band and the bimodal shape observed in halide ionic liquids. Simulations overestimate the separation of these two components in most solvents. The character of water rotational motions changes markedly with solvent polarity, from quasi-free rotation in nonpolar and weakly polar solvents to highly constrained libration in strongly hydrogen bonding environments. The changeover to librational motions dominating the spectrum occurs between solvents such as benzene (v(L) similar to 250 cm(-1)) and acetonitrile (v(L) similar to 400 cm(-1)). For solvents in the latter category, the mean frequency of the experimental FIR band provides a direct measure of mean-squared torques and, therefore, force constants associated with interactions constraining water's librational motion.

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