PerspectiveCHEMICAL PHYSICS

Spying on the neighbors' pool

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Science  02 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6316, pp. 1101
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal1413

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Summary

The structure and properties of the proton in water are of fundamental importance in many areas of chemistry and biology. The high mobility of the proton in an aqueous solution is understood in terms of its “hopping” between neighboring water molecules, as suggested by the two-century-old Grotthuss mechanism. The barrier for this process intimately depends on the proton's surrounding environment, which is manifested by the connectivity of the immediate hydrogen-bonding network as well as its dynamics caused by thermal fluctuations. On page 1131 of this issue, Wolke et al. (1) shed new light on the role that the proton's water neighbors play toward facilitating positive charge translocation within a hydrogen-bonded network in a cold water cluster.