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Water Cluster Equilibria

Water cluster equilibria animated gif



An icosahedral water cluster consisting of 280 water molecules has a central puckering dodecahedron. Only the oxygen atoms are shown. A full cluster also has 12 potential 100-water-molecule clusters surrounding the central 100 water molecule core. The puckering occurs with drops in the hydrogen bond energy (below left). Puckering not only changes the central dodecahedron but will flicker between new (surrounding) and old centers with the clusters disassembling and reforming as required, and as indicated in the animated figure below right. Thus, the cluster is self-replicating as any one cluster also contains the seeds for the formation of up to 12 further clusters.




Potential energy diagram showing the minima due to the relative attraction of van der Waals forces and hydrogen bonding


animated flickering cluster



Radial positions of water molecules during cubic puckering


Puckering can occur with relatively small consequential distortion to the cluster as a whole. On the right is a graph showing the radial positions (vertical axis, eight cubically arranged 14-molecule tetrahedra; remaining twelve 14-molecule tetrahedra) in the six radial positions from the center (containing 1, 1, 3, 3, 3, 3 molecules respectively) with the non-bonded cubic box length of the puckered water (horizontal axis). To generate this graph all hydrogen-bonded distances were held at 2.8 Å (); also shown are the mean 2nd neighbor distances () and their range (—-—).


As the 8 cubically arranged 14-molecule tetrahedra pucker inward (blue lines, moving to the left), the remaining 12 14-molecule tetrahedra (red lines) first expand slightly before being dragged in. It is clear that the large movement in the inner two puckering water molecules (lowest two blue lines) is severely attenuated in the remaining molecules in the cluster. The spherical angle coordinates (θ, φ) of all the molecules also fluctuate little (S.D. 0~3°, average 0.33°) during the puckering. The total volume (indicated by the surface positions given by the outer three blue and red lines) reduces throughout the puckering. The ES structure corresponds to about the 4.6 Å horizontal position when all 14-molecule tetrahedra are equivalent and the CS structure corresponds close to 3 Å where the inner cubically-arranged puckered water molecules are at their minimum permissible non-bonded distance apart.



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This page was established in 2003 and last updated by Martin Chaplin on 10 September, 2017

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