Infrared signature of the cation-π interaction between calcite and aromatic hydrocarbons

Haitao Wang, Daniel J. Grant, Peter C. Burns, Chongzheng Na

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The cation-π interaction is proposed as an important mechanism for the adsorption of aromatic hydrocarbons having non-zero quadrupole moments by mineral surfaces. Direct evidence supporting such a mechanism is, however, limited. Using the model mineral calcite, we probe the cation-π interaction with adsorbed benzene, toluene, and ethylbenzene (BTE) molecules using attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. We show that the presence of calcite increases the energy required to excite the synchronized bending of aromatic C-H bonds of BTE molecules. The unique conformation of this vibrational mode indicates that the planar aromatic rings of BTE molecules are constrained in a tilted face-down position by the cation-π interaction, as further confirmed by density functional theory calculations. Our results suggest that the shift of the excitation energy of the aromatic C-H bending may be used as an infrared signature for the cation-π interaction occurring on mineral surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5820-5826
Number of pages7
Issue number21
StatePublished - Jun 2 2015


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