The stability of the acetic acid dimer in microhydrated environments and in aqueous solution

Hasan Pašalić, Daniel Tunega, Adélia J.A. Aquino, Georg Haberhauer, Martin H. Gerzabek, Hans Lischka

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The thermodynamic stability of the acetic acid dimer conformers in microhydrated environments and in aqueous solution was studied by means of molecular dynamics simulations using the density functional based tight binding (DFTB) method. To confirm the reliability of this method for the system studied, density functional theory (DFT) and second order Møller-Plesset perturbation theory (MP2) calculations were performed for comparison. Classical optimized potentials for liquid simulations (OPLS) force field dynamics was used as well. One focus of this work was laid on the study of the capabilities of water molecules to break the hydrogen bonds of the acetic acid dimer. The barrier for insertion of one water molecule into the most stable cyclic dimer is found to lie between 3.25 and 4.8 kcal mol -1 for the quantum mechanical methods, but only at 1.2 kcal mol -1 for OPLS. Starting from different acetic acid dimer structures optimized in gas phase, DFTB dynamics simulations give a different picture of the stability in the microhydrated environment (4 to 12 water molecules) as compared to aqueous solution. In the former case all conformers are converted to the hydrated cyclic dimer, which remains stable over the entire simulation time of 1 ns. These results demonstrate that the considered microhydrated environment is not sufficient to dissociate the acetic acid dimer. In aqueous solution, however, the DFTB dynamics shows dissociation of all dimer structures (or processes leading thereto) starting after about 50 ps, demonstrating the capability of the water environment to break up the relatively strong hydrogen bridges. The OPLS dynamics in the aqueous environment shows - in contrast to the DFTB results - immediate dissociation, but a similar long-term behavior. This journal is

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4162-4170
Number of pages9
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 28 2012


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