Medium and strong hydrogen bonds are common in biological systems. Here, they provide structural support and can act as proton transfer relays to drive electron and/or energy transfer. Infrared spectroscopy is a sensitive probe of molecular structure and hydrogen bond strength but strongly hydrogen-bonded structures often exhibit very broad and complex vibrational bands. As an example, strong hydrogen bonds between carboxylic acids and nitrogen-containing aromatic bases commonly display a 900 cm−1 broad feature with a remarkable double-hump structure. Although previous studies have assigned this feature to the OH, the exact origin of the shape and width of this unusual feature is not well understood. In this study, we present ab initio calculations of the contributions of the OH stretch and bend vibrational modes to the vibrational spectrum of strongly hydrogen-bonded heterodimers of carboxylic acids and nitrogen-containing aromatic bases, taking the 7-azaindole—acetic acid and pyridine—acetic acid dimers as examples. Our calculations take into account coupling between the OH stretch and bend modes as well as how both of these modes are affected by lower frequency dimer stretch modes, which modulate the distance between the monomers. Our calculations reproduce the broadness and the double-hump structure of the OH vibrational feature. Where the spectral broadness is primarily caused by the dimer stretch modes strongly modulating the frequency of the OH stretch mode, the double-hump structure results from a Fermi resonance between the out of the plane OH bend and the OH stretch modes.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/brian-vanhoozen/5/