Quantum kinetic energy and isotope fractionation in aqueous ionic solutions

Lu Wang, Michele Ceriotti, Thomas E. Markland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


At room temperature, the quantum contribution to the kinetic energy of a water molecule exceeds the classical contribution by an order of magnitude. The quantum kinetic energy (QKE) of a water molecule is modulated by its local chemical environment and leads to uneven partitioning of isotopes between different phases in thermal equilibrium, which would not occur if the nuclei behaved classically. In this work, we use ab initio path integral simulations to show that QKEs of the water molecules and the equilibrium isotope fractionation ratios of the oxygen and hydrogen isotopes are sensitive probes of the hydrogen bonding structures in aqueous ionic solutions. In particular, we demonstrate how the QKE of water molecules in path integral simulations can be decomposed into translational, rotational and vibrational degrees of freedom, and use them to determine the impact of solvation on different molecular motions. By analyzing the QKEs and isotope fractionation ratios, we show how the addition of the Na+, Cl- and HPO42- ions perturbs the competition between quantum effects in liquid water and impacts their local solvation structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10490-10499
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 21 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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