Ion association with tetra-n-alkylammonium cations stabilizes higher-oxidation-state neptunium dioxocations

Shanna L. Estes, Baofu Qiao, Geng Bang Jin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Extended-coordination sphere interactions between dissolved metals and other ions, including electrolyte cations, are not known to perturb the electrochemical behavior of metal cations in water. Herein, we report the stabilization of higher-oxidation-state Np dioxocations in aqueous chloride solutions by hydrophobic tetra-n-alkylammonium (TAA + ) cations—an effect not exerted by fully hydrated Li + cations under similar conditions. Experimental and molecular dynamics simulation results indicate that TAA + cations not only drive enhanced coordination of anionic Cl ligands to Np V/VI but also associate with the resulting Np complexes via non-covalent interactions, which together decrease the electrode potential of the Np VI /Np V couple by up to 220 mV (ΔΔG = −22.2 kJ mol −1 ). Understanding the solvation-dependent interplay between electrolyte cations and metal–oxo species opens an avenue for controlling the formation and redox properties of metal complexes in solution. It also provides valuable mechanistic insights into actinide separation processes that widely use quaternary ammonium cations as extractants or in room temperature ionic liquids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number59
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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