Comparative analysis of ethanol dynamics in aqueous and non-aqueous solutions†
In this study, we compare the results for vibrational, reorientational and hydrogen bond dynamics of ethanol in water and in hexane across the whole concentration range. Water and hexane are both commonly used as solvents, but so far, it has been unclear to what extent they modify the solute dynamics. Ethanol is chosen as the solute because it is an aliphatic molecule that is miscibile with both solvents. It is known that ethanol forms micelle-like domains in water and cyclic clusters resembling loops in hexane. This structural micro-heterogeneity is well known both in experiments and in simulations. The main question we raise here is: is there a signature of micro-heterogeneity in the dynamical quantities of ethanol? We focus on quantities such as the vibrational spectra, the reorientational correlation functions, the self-diffusion coefficients, the ethanol–ethanol hydrogen bond correlation functions and the corresponding hydrogen bond histograms. For the first time ever, we compute the van Hove functions to reveal the dynamical variations of spatial correlations in these systems. All these results complement each other and provide a unifying dynamical description of ethanol in binary mixtures.