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Doctoral thesis, 2015

Exploring the surface of aqueous solutions

Werner, Josephina


The surface behavior of biologically or atmospherically relevant chemical compounds in aqueous solution has been studied using surface-sensitive X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The aim is to provide information on the molecular-scale composition and distribution of solutes in the surface region of aqueous solutions. In the first part, the distribution of solutes in the surface region is discussed, where in particular single molecular species are studied. Concentration-dependent studies on succinic acid and various alkyl-alcohols, where also parameters such as pH and branching are varied, are analyzed using different approaches that allow the quantification of surface concentrations. Furthermore, due to the sensitivity of XPS to the chemical state, reorientation of linear and branched alkyl-alcohols at the aqueous surface as a function of concentration is observed. The results are further discussed in terms of hydrophilic and hydrophobic interactions in the interfacial region, where the three-dimensional hydrogen bonded water structure terminates. In the second part, mixed solutions of compounds, both ionic and molecular, are inspected. Again concentration, but also co-dissolution of other chemical compounds, are varied and differences in the spatial distribution and composition of the surface region are discussed. It is found that the guanidinium ion has an increased propensity to reside at the surface, which is explained by strong hydration in only two dimensions and only weak interactions between the aromatic π-system and water. Ammonium ions, on the other hand, which require hydration in three dimensions, are depleted from the surface region. The presence of strongly hydrated electrolytes out-competes neutral molecules for hydrating water molecules leading to an enhanced abundance of molecules, such as succinic acid, in the interfacial region. The partitioning is quantified and discussed in the context of atmospheric science, where the impact of the presented results on organic loading of aerosol particles is emphasized.


X-ray Photoelectron spectroscopy; liquid micro-jet; air-water interface; inorganic salt; carboxylic acid; alcohol; isomers; hydration

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2015, number: 2015:133
ISBN: 978-91-576-8464-6, eISBN: 978-91-576-8465-3
Publisher: Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Werner, Josephina
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, The Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology

UKÄ Subject classification

Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics
Physical Chemistry
Condensed Matter Physics

URI (permanent link to this page)