Frustrated Solvation Structures Can Enhance Electron Transfer Rates

Richard C. Remsing, Ian G. McKendry, Daniel R. Strongin, Michael L. Klein, Michael J. Zdilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Polar surfaces can interact strongly with nearby water molecules, leading to the formation of highly ordered interfacial hydration structures. This ordering can lead to frustration in the hydrogen bond network, and, in the presence of solutes, frustrated hydration structures. We study frustration in the hydration of cations when confined between sheets of the water oxidation catalyst manganese dioxide. Frustrated hydration structures are shown to have profound effects on ion-surface electron transfer through the enhancement of energy gap fluctuations beyond those expected from Marcus theory. These fluctuations are accompanied by a concomitant increase in the electron transfer rate in Marcus's normal regime. We demonstrate the generality of this phenomenon-enhancement of energy gap fluctuations due to frustration-by introducing a charge frustrated XY model, likening the hydration structure of confined cations to topological defects. Our findings shed light on recent experiments suggesting that water oxidation rates depend on the cation charge and Mn-oxidation state in these layered transition metal oxide materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4804-4808
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 3 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


  • Marcus theory
  • XY model
  • birnessite
  • catalysis
  • confinement
  • fluctuations
  • quenched disorder


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