Physical Chemistry

Microscopic Structural Features of Water in Aqueous-Reline Mixture of Varying Composition



Reline, a mixture of urea and choline chloride in 2:1 molar ratio, is one of the most frequently used deep eutectic solvents. Pure reline and its aqueous solution have large scale industrial use. Owing to the presence of active hydrogen bond formation sites, urea and choline cation can disrupt the hydrogen-bonded network in water. However, a quantitative understanding of the microscopic structural features of water in the presence of reline is still lacking. We use extensive all-atom molecular dynamics simulations to elucidate the effect of the gradual addition of co-solvents on microscopic arrangements of water molecules. We consider four aqueous solutions of reline, between the wt% 26.3 to 91.4. A disruption of the local hydrogen-bonded water structure is observed on inclusion of urea and choline chloride. The extent of deviation of water structure from tetrahedrality is quantified using the orientational order parameter. Our analyses show a monotonic increase in structural disorder as the co-solvents are added. Increment in the values are observed when highly electro-negative hetero-atoms like Nitrogen, Oxygen of urea and choline cations are counted as the partners of the central water molecules. Further insights are drawn from the characterization of the hydrogen-bonded network of the water and we observe gradual rupturing of water-water hydrogen bonds and its subsequent replacement by the water-urea hydrogen bonds. A negligible contribution from the hydrogen bonds between water and bulky choline cation has also been found. Considering all the constituents as the hydrogen bond partner we calculate the possibility of successful hydrogen bond formation with a central water molecule. This gives a clear picture of the underlying mechanism of water replacement by urea.


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Supplementary material

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Supplementary Information