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The Structure of a lanthanide complex at an extractant/water interface studied using heterodyne-detected vibrational sum frequency generation

Kusaka, Ryoji ; Watanabe, Masayuki

Solvent extraction plays an integral part in the separation and purification of metals. Because extractants generally used as complexing agents for metal extractions, such as di-(2-ethylhexyl)phosphoric acid (HDEHP) for lanthanide extractions, are amphiphilic, they come to the organic/water interface, and the interface plays a crucial role as the site of the formation of metal complexes and subsequent transfer reaction to an organic phase. Despite the importance of the interface for solvent extractions, however, molecular-level structure of the interface is unclear because of experimental difficulty. Here we studied structure of a trivalent europium (Eu$$^{3+}$$) complex with HDEHP formed at HDEHP monolayer/water interface by heterodyne-detected vibrational sum frequency generation (HD-VSFG) spectroscopy. The study on the HDEHP/water interface enables us to investigate the structure of the interfacial Eu$$^{3+}$$ complex by excluding the migration of Eu$$^{3+}$$ into an organic phase after the complex formation at the interface. The interface-selective vibrational Im$$chi$$$$^{(2)}$$ spectra observed by HD-VSFG of HDEHP/Eu(NO$$_{3}$$)$$_{3}$$ aqueous solution interface in the 2800-3500 cm$$^{-1}$$ region indicate that Eu$$^{3+}$$ at the HDEHP/water interface is bonded by HDEHP from the air side and by water molecules from the water side. To the best of our knowledge, such metal complex structures have not been identified in the organic or water solutions.

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Category:Chemistry, Physical

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