Electron-Driven Acid-Base Chemistry: Proton Transfer from Hydrogen Chloride to Ammonia

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Science  15 Feb 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5865, pp. 936-939
DOI: 10.1126/science.1151614

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In contrast to widely familiar acid-base behavior in solution, single molecules of NH3 and HCl do not react to form the ionic salt, NH+4Cl, in isolation. We applied anion photoelectron spectroscopy and ab initio theory to investigate the interaction of an excess electron with the hydrogen-bonded complex NH3···HCl. Our results show that an excess electron induces this complex to form the ionic salt. We propose a mechanism that proceeds through a dipole-bound state to form the negative ion of ionic ammonium chloride, a species that can also be characterized as a deformed Rydberg radical, NH4, polarized by a chloride anion, Cl.

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