On the role of water in the hydrogen bond network in DESs: an ab initio molecular dynamics and quantum mechanical study on the urea–betaine system†
We herein report an ab initio molecular dynamics study on a natural DES composed of urea and betaine in a 3 : 2 ratio, as a test case for evaluating the water effect. The article deals with a theoretical study using both ab initio molecular dynamics and quantum chemistry computations in order to unravel the role of water in the nanostructure of a urea–betaine mixture. Preliminary molecular dynamics outcomes (both radial and spatial distribution functions) suggest that water promotes the association between urea and betaine by increasing the hydrogen bond network and precluding the aggregation of urea molecules. In other words, the presence of water allows a less restrictive hydrogen bond network, presenting a regimen where the strong hydrogen bond interactions are replaced by a wide variety of weaker hydrogen bond interactions. On the other hand, in a water free DES there is a regimen where strong urea–betaine interactions are dominant. It is shown that second order perturbation theory energy analysis provides cogent insights into charge spreading and hydrogen bond patterns. A vibrational analysis (both IR and power spectrum) over the ab initio molecular dynamics trajectories in the water free DES as well as in the urea–betaine–water systems reveals that our results are consistent with the second order perturbation theory analysis and with the hydrogen bond network pattern.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Non-traditional solvent effects in organic reactions