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University of Oregon researcher finds that on water's surface, nitric acid is not so tough
Date:8/20/2007

of its molecular structure in the air and the rest surrounded by water. Under these conditions they find that it is much less likely to dissociate into its ionic parts giving the surface of nitric acid solutions very different reactive properties than its well-known reactive and acidic behavior in the bulk of the acid solution.

Our combined laser experiments and computer simulations provide a rich picture of how nitric acid behaves on a water surface, the way it dances around on the top layer of the water surface in a way that significantly reduces its ability to shed its acidic hydrogen compared to when it is submerged in the liquid, Richmond said. Hydrogen bonding to surface solvating water molecules plays a key role in this altered molecular behavior.

The exposed nature of nitric acid at the surface, Richmond said, makes it more readily available for reaction with immediate surroundings. But as a consequence of this exposure, it acts as a much weaker acid. The results have important implications for understanding the role of nitric acid in our environment, particularly in the many instances where the chemistry in our atmosphere occurs on the surface of nitric acid containing droplets and particulates.


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Contact: Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uoregon.edu
541-346-3481
University of Oregon
Source:Eurekalert

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