2015 March

Diving electrons

Tuesday, 31st March 2015Publication highlights

Findings on how electrons are solvated in water widen the range of potential influences on chemical reactions

Chemistry can be quite confusing. In order for the desired substance to be produced in a reaction or for two substances to interact – or not – chemists have to take into account a number of factors. Researchers at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin can now offer them additional access. They have measured how strongly electrons are bound when they are put into water – namely right at the start as soon as the negative charge carriers are released by, for instance, a potential reaction partner. Electrons are the actual players in chemical reactions, as they are moved between different atoms during this process. Whether that happens depends on their binding energy to the different components. And in reactions in aqueous solutions, the binding energy of an electron at the beginning of the solvation process is a key factor. Now that it is known, chemists can consider it when planning or preventing reactions (read the full article here).

On the light catapult: Jan-Christoph Deinert adjusts the blue laser that researchers at the Fritz Haber Institute use to hurl electrons from a copper plate into a thin amorphous layer of ice serving as a model for liquid water. In their experiments, they are investigating how the electron is solvated in it. © Clemens Richter / Fritz Haber Institute

Original publication:
Real-Time Measurement of the Vertical Binding Energy during the Birth of a Solvated Electron
Julia Stähler, Jan-Christoph Deinert, Daniel Wegkamp , Sebastian Hagen und Martin Wolf
Journal of the American Chemical Society, published online January 22, 2015; doi: 10.1021/ja511571y