We studied the effects of tetra-n-alkylammonium bromide (N(CnH2n+1)+4Br-) salts on the dynamics of water using polarization-resolved femtosecond infrared spectroscopy. With this technique, we are capable of distinguishing the response of water solvating the hydrophobic cations from that of water solvating the bromide anion. We observe that both types of ions slow down the orientational dynamics of the water molecules in their solvation shells. However, the nature of this slowdown is different for both ions. For the hydrophobic cation, we find an increasing number of retarded water molecules, scaling with the alkyl chain length. Water in the bromide solvation shell experiences a partial decay of its orientation by a fast wobbling motion, after which the remaining anisotropy decays much slower. The dynamics of the wobbling motion are observed to be dependent on the nature of the cation. For Me4NBr, the slow reorientation time is not concentration-dependent, and no aggregation is observed. This is in contrast to the tetra-n-alkylammonium salts with longer alkyl chains, for which the slow reorientation time of bromide-bound water molecules increases dramatically with concentration, and clusters of cations and anions appear to be formed.

J. Phys. Chem. B
Ultrafast Spectroscopy

van der Post, S.T, Scheidelaar, S, & Bakker, H.J. (2013). Water dynamics in aqueous solutions of Tetra-n-alkylammonium Salts : Hydrophobic and coulomb interactions disentangled. J. Phys. Chem. B, 17(48), 15101–15110. doi:10.1021/jp4085734