Kinetic Evidence for Five-Coordination in AlOH(aq)2+ Ion

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Science  03 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5727, pp. 1450-1453
DOI: 10.1126/science.1110231

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Trivalent aluminum ions are important in natural bodies of water, but the structure of their coordination shell is a complex unsolved problem. In strong acid (pH < 3.0), AlIII exists almost entirely as the octahedral Al(H2O)63+ ion, whereas in basic conditions (pH > 7), a tetrahedral Al(OH)4 structure prevails. In the biochemically and geochemically critical pH range of 4.3 to 7.0, the ion structures are less clear. Other hydrolytic species, such as AlOH(aq)2+, exist and are traditionally assumed to be hexacoordinate. We show, however, that the kinetics of proton and water exchange on aqueous AlIII, coupled with Car-Parrinello simulations, support a five-coordinate Al(H2O)4OH2+ ion as the predominant form of AlOH(aq)2+ under ambient conditions. This result contrasts AlIII with other trivalent metal aqua ions, for which there is no evidence for stable pentacoordinate hydrolysis products.

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