Direct Determination of Ionic Solvation from Neutron Diffraction

Science  24 Sep 1982:
Vol. 217, Issue 4566, pp. 1249-1250
DOI: 10.1126/science.217.4566.1249


Much information on ionic solvation in electrolyte solutions has been inferred from macroscopic thermodynamic and transport properties and from spectroscopy. These ion-water interactions can now be probed directly and unambiguously by neutron diffraction. Such measurements have been done with neodymium trichloride solutions in heavy water that are identical in every respect except the isotopic state of the neodymium ions; these experiments yield in a straightforward manner the distribution of oxygen and deuterium atoms from the water molecules in the first hydration sphere of the neodymium ion. Each ion is surrounded by 8.6 oxygen atoms at a distance of 2.48 angstroms and 16.7 deuterium atoms at 3.13 angstroms indicating a well-defined first hydration sphere of water molecules, the deuterium atoms pointing away from the cation.