Journal article

Probing the Transition from Hydrophilic to Hydrophobic Solvation with Atomic Scale Resolution

Picosecond and femtosecond X-ray absorption spectroscopy is used to probe the changes of the solvent shell structure upon electron abstraction of aqueous iodide using an ultrashort laser pulse. The transient L-1,L-3 edge EXAFS at 50 ps time delay points to the formation of an expanded water cavity around the iodine atom, in good agreement with classical and quantum mechanical/molecular mechanics (QM/MM) molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. These also show that while the hydrogen atoms pointed toward iodide, they predominantly point toward the bulk solvent in the case of iodine, suggesting a hydrophobic behavior. This is further confirmed by quantum chemical (QC) calculations of I-/I-0(H2O)(n=1-4) clusters. The L-1 edge sub-picosecond spectra point to the existence of a transient species that is not present at SO ps. The QC calculations and the QM/MM MD simulations identify this transient species as an I-0(OH2) complex inside the cavity. The simulations show that upon electron abstraction most of the water molecules move away from iodine, while one comes closer to form the complex that lives for 3-4 Ps. This time is governed by the reorganization of the main solvation shell, basically the time it takes for the water molecules to reform an H-bond network Only then is the interaction with the solvation shell strong enough to pull the water molecule of the complex toward the bulk solvent. Overall, much of the behavior at early times is determined by the reorientational dynamics of water molecules and the formation of a complete network of hydrogen bonded molecules in the first solvation shell.

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