Contact Ion Pair Formation Is Not Necessarily Stronger than Solvent Shared Ion Pairing

Kenneth D. Judd, Nicole M. Gonzalez, Tinglu Yang, Paul S. Cremer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Vibrational sum frequency spectroscopy (VSFS) and pressure-area Langmuir trough measurements were used to investigate the binding of alkali metal cations to eicosyl sulfate (ESO4) surfactants in monolayers at the air/water interface. The number density of sulfate groups could be tuned by mixing the anionic surfactant with eicosanol. The equilibrium dissociation constant for K+ to the fatty sulfate interface showed 10 times greater affinity than for Li+ and approximately 3 times greater than for Na+. All three cations formed solvent shared ion pairs when the mole fraction of ESO4 was 0.33 or lower. Above this threshold charge density, Li+ formed contact ion pairs with the sulfate headgroups, presumably via bridging structures. By contrast, K+ only bound to the sulfate moieties in solvent shared ion pairing configurations. The behavior for Na+ was intermediate. These results demonstrate that there is not necessarily a correlation between contact ion pair formation and stronger binding affinity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-930
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 27 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Contact Ion Pair Formation Is Not Necessarily Stronger than Solvent Shared Ion Pairing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this