Aqueous solutions of a light (Nd3+), a middle (Gd3+), and a heavy (Yb3+) lanthanide ion were studied using ab initio based flexible and polarizable analytical potentials in classical molecular dynamics simulations to describe their thermodynamic, structural, and dynamic features. To avoid the spurious demise of O-H bonds, it was necessary to reparametrize an existing water model, which resulted in an improved description of pure water. The good agreement of the results from the simulations with the experimental hydration enthalpies, the Ln(III)-water radial distribution functions, and the water-exchange rates validated the potentials, though the r(Ln-Ow) distances were 6% longer than the experimentally determined values. A nona-coordinated state was found for Nd3+ in 95% of the simulation, with a tricapped trigonal prism (TCTP) geometry; the corresponding water-exchange mechanism was found to be of dissociative interchange (Id) character through a short-lived octa-coordinated transition state in a square antiprism (SQA) geometry. An octa-coordinated state in SQA geometry was found for Yb3+ in 99% of the simulation, and the observed exchange events exhibited characteristics of an interchange (I) mechanism. For Gd3+ an equilibrium was observed between 8-fold SQA and 9-fold TCTP coordinated states that was maintained by the frequent exchange of a water molecule from the first hydration shell with the bulk, thus producing significant deviations from the ideal geometries, and a fast exchange rate. Though strong water-water interactions prevented a full alignment of the dipoles to the ion's electric field, the screening was found large enough as to limit its range to 5 A; water molecules further apart from the ion were found to have the same dipole as the molecules in the bulk, and a random orientation. The interplay among the water-ion and the water-water interactions determined the different coordination numbers and the different dynamics of the water exchange in the first hydration shell for each ion.
2009. Vol. 113, no 20, 7270-7281 p.