Specific Cation Effects on SCN in Bulk Solution and at the Air−Water Interface

Giulio Tesei, Vidar Aspelin, Mikael Lund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The large and sparsely hydrated thiocyanate anion, SCN–, plays a prominent role in the study of specific ion effects in biological, colloid, and atmospheric chemistry due to its extreme position in the Hofmeister series. Using atomistic modeling of aqueous SCN– solutions, we provide novel insight at the molecular scale into the experimentally observed differences in ion pairing, clustering, reorientation dynamics, mutual diffusion, and solubility between the sodium, Na+, and the potassium, K+, salt. Compared to KSCN, NaSCN has a less pronounced tendency to ion pairing; nevertheless, at high salt concentrations, we observe a strong attraction between Na+ cations and the nitrogen end of SCN–, resulting in larger and more closely packed ion clusters. To accurately model aqueous SCN– solutions in computer simulations, we develop a thermodynamically consistent force field rooted in quantum-chemical calculations and refined using the Kirkwood–Buff theory. The force field is compatible with the extended simple point charge and three-point optimal point charge classical water models and reproduces experimental activity derivatives and air–water surface tension for a wide range of salt concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5094–5105
JournalThe Journal of Physical Chemistry Part B
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr 19

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Theoretical Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry


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