Lifetimes of excess protons in water using a dissociative water potential

Glenn K. Lockwood, Stephen H. Garofalini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Molecular dynamics simulations using a dissociative water potential were applied to study transport of excess protons in water and determine the applicability of this potential to describe such behavior. While originally developed for gas-phase molecules and bulk liquid water, the potential is transferrable to nanoconfinement and interface scenarios. Applied here, it shows proton behavior consistent with ab initio calculations and empirical models specifically designed to describe proton transport. Both Eigen and Zundel complexes are observed in the simulations showing the Eigen-Zundel-Eigen-type mechanism. In addition to reproducing the short-time rattling of the excess proton between the two oxygens of Zundel complexes, a picosecond-scale lifetime was also found. These longer-lived H3O+ ions are caused by the rapid conversion of the local solvation structure around the transferring proton from a Zundel-like form to an Eigen-like form following the transfer, effectively severing the path along which the proton can rattle. The migration of H+ over long times (>100 ps) deviates from the conventional short-time multiexponentially decaying lifetime autocorrelation model and follows the t-3/2 power-law behavior. The potential function employed here matches many of the features of proton transport observed in ab initio molecular dynamics simulations as well as the highly developed empirical valence bond models, yet is computationally very efficient, enabling longer time and larger systems to be studied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4089-4097
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Apr 18 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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