Interfacial Acidity on Oxide Surfaces: A Scaling Paradigm and the Role of the Hydrogen Bond

09 April 2020, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


A fundamental understanding of acidity at an interface, as mediated by structure and molecule-surface interactions, is essential to elucidate the mechanisms of a range of chemical transformations. While the strength­­­­ of an acid in the gas and solution phases is conceptually well understood, how acid-base chemistry works at an interface is notoriously more complicated. Using density functional theory and nonlinear vibrational spectroscopy, we have developed a method to determine the interfacial Brønsted-Lowry acidity of aliphatic alcohols adsorbed on the {100} surface of the model perovskite, strontium titanate. Here we show that, while shorter and less branched alkanols are less acidic as a gas and more acidic in solution, shorter alcohols are less acidic whereas less substituted alkanols are more acidic at the gas-surface interface. Hydrogen bonding plays a critical role in defining acidity, whereas structure-acidity relationships are dominated by van der Waals interactions between the alcohol and the surface.


interfacial acidity
hydrogen bonding
strontium titanate
perovskite surface
density functional theory
sum frequency generation spectroscopy
Gas-solid interfaces
surface chemistry
proton transfer
acid-base chemistry

Supplementary materials

Alkanols STO100 SI
Alkanols STO100 coords


Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] - please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy [opens in a new tab] and Terms of Service [opens in a new tab] apply.