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Journal of Chemical Physics

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Molecular dynamics, Organic compounds, Alkanes -- Molecular structure


We studied the effect of segmented solvent molecules on the free energy of transfer of small molecules from water into alkanes (hexane, heptane, octane, decane, dodecane, tetradecane, and hexadecane). For these alkanes we measured partition coefficients of benzene, 3-methylindole (3MI), 2,3,4,6-tetrachlorophenol (TeCP), and 2,4,6-tribromophenol (TriBP) at 3, 11, 20, 3, and 47 °C. For 3MI, TeCP, and TriBP the dependence of free energy of transfer on length of alkane chains was found to be very different from that for benzene. In contrast to benzene, the energy of transfer for 3MI, TeCP, and TriBP was independent of the number of carbons in alkanes. To interpret data, we used the classic Flory–Huggins (FH) theory of concentrated polymer solutions for the alkane phase. For benzene, the measured dependence of energy of transfer on the number of carbons in alkanes agreed well with predictions based on FH model in which the size of alkane segments was obtained from the ratio of molar volumes of alkanes and the solute. We show that for benzene, the energy of transfer can be divided into two components, one called environmental swap energy (ESE), and one representing the contribution of configurational entropy of alkane chains. For 3MI, TeCP, and TriBP the contribution of configurational entropy was not measurable even though the magnitude of the effect predicted from the FH model for short chain alkanes was as much as 20 times greater than experimental uncertainties. From the temperature dependence of ESE we obtained enthalpy and entropy of transfer for benzene, 3MI, TeCP, and TriBP. Experimental results are discussed in terms of a thermodynamic cycle considering creation of cavity, insertion of solute, and activation of solute-medium attractive interactions. Our results suggest that correcting experimental free energy of transfer by Flory–Huggins configurational entropy term is not generally appropriate and cannot be applied indiscriminately.

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