The Crystal Structure of Carbonic Acid

01 June 2022, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Ubiquitous carbonic acid, H2CO3, a key molecule in biochemistry, geochemistry, and also extraterrestrial chemistry, is known from a plethora of physicochemical studies. Its crystal structure has now been determined from neutron-diffraction data on a deuterated sample in a specially built hybrid clamped cell. At 1.85 GPa, D2CO3 crystallizes in the monoclinic space group P21/c with a = 5.392(2), b = 6.661(4), c = 5.690(1) Å, β = 92.66(3)°, Z = 4, with one symmetry-inequivalent anti-anti shaped D2CO3 molecule forming dimers, as previously predicted. Quantum chemistry evidences π bonding within the CO3 molecular core, very strong hydrogen bonding between the molecules, and a massive influence of the crystal field on all bonds; phonon calculations emphasize the locality of the vibrations, being rather insensitive to the extended structure.


crystal structure
neutron diffraction
high pressure
quantum chemistry
density-functional theory
chemical bonding


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