Competition between Solvent···Solvent and Solvent···Solute Interactions in the Microhydration of the Tetrafluoroborate Anion, BF4–(H2O)*nN = 1,2,3,4


This study systematically examines the interactions of the tetrafluoroborate anion (BF4) with up to four water molecules (BF4(H2O)n = 1,2,3,4). Full geometry optimizations and subsequent harmonic vibrational frequency computations are performed using a variety of density functional theory (DFT) methods (B3LYP, B3LYP-D3BJ, and M06-2X) and the MP2 ab initio method with a triple-ζ correlation consistent basis set augmented with diffuse functions on all non-hydrogen atoms (cc-pVTZ for H and aug-cc-pVTZ for B, O, and F; denoted as haTZ). Optimized structures and harmonic vibrational frequencies were also obtained with the CCSD(T) ab initio method and the haTZ basis set for the mono- and dihydrate (n = 1, 2) structures. The 2-body:Many-body (2b:Mb) technique, in which CCSD(T) computations capture the 1- and 2-body contributions to the interactions and MP2 computations recover all higher-order contributions, was used to extend these demanding computations to the tri- and tetrahydrate (n = 3, 4) systems. Four, five, and eight new stationary points have been identified for the di-, tri-, and tetrahydrate systems, respectively. The global minimum of the monohydrate adopts a symmetric double ionic hydrogen bond motif with C2v symmetry and an electronic dissociation energy of 13.17 kcal mol–1 at the CCSD(T)/haTZ level of theory. This strong solvent···solute interaction, however, competes with solute···solute interactions in the lowest-energy BF4(H2O)n = 2,3,4 minima that are not seen in the other di-, tri-, or tetrahydrate minima. The latter interactions help increase the 2b:Mb dissociation energies to more than 26, 41, and 51 kcal mol–1 for n = 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Structures that form hydrogen bonds between the solvating water molecules also exhibit the largest shifts in the harmonic OH stretching frequencies for the waters of hydration. These shifts can exceed −280 cm–1 relative to an isolated H2O molecule at the 2b:Mb/haTZ level of theory.

J. Phys. Chem. A, 127, 42 (2023)

Supporting information can be found here.

Eric Van Dornshuld
Eric Van Dornshuld
Assistant Clinical Professor

My research interests include modeling small molecule systems with convergent quantum chemistry.