Acidity of frozen electrolyte solutions

Carmen Robinson, C. S. Boxe, M. I. Guzmán, A. J. Colussi, M. R. Hoffmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Ice is selectively intolerant to impurities. A preponderance of implanted anions or cations generates electrical imbalances in ice grown from electrolyte solutions. Since the excess charges are ultimately neutralized via interfacial (H+/HO-) transport, the acidity of the unfrozen portion can change significantly and permanently. This insufficiently recognized phenomenon should critically affect rates and equilibria in frozen media. Here we report the effective 19F NMR chemical shift of 3-fluorobenzoic acid as in situ probe of the acidity of extensively frozen electrolyte solutions. The sign and magnitude of the acidity changes associated with freezing are largely determined by specific ion combinations, but depend also on solute concentration and/or the extent of supercooling. NaCl solutions become more basic, those of (NH4)2SO4 or Na 2SO4 become more acidic, while solutions of the 2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid zwitterion barely change their acidity upon freezing. We discuss how acidity scales based on solid-state NMR measurements could be used to assess the degree of ionization of weak acids and bases in frozen media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7613-7616
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 20 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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