Chemistry: Sequential proton transfer through water bridges in acid-base reactions Academic Article uri icon


  • The proton transfer mechanism between aqueous Brønsted acids and bases, forming an encounter pair, has been studied in real time with ultrafast infrared spectroscopy. The transient intermediacy of a hydrated proton, formed by ultrafast dissociation from an optically triggered photoacid proton donor ROH, is implicated by the appearance of an infrared absorption marker band before protonation of the base, B-. Thus, proton exchange between an acid and a base in aqueous solution is shown to proceed by a sequential, von Grotthuss-type, proton-hopping mechanism through water bridges. The spectra suggest a hydronium cation H3O+ structure for the intermediate, stabilized in the Eigen configuration in the ionic complex RO-...H3O+...B-.

publication date

  • November 1, 2005