Structural Chemistry

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 231–242 | Cite as

Structure of hydrogen tetroxide in gas phase and in aqueous environments: relationship to the hydroperoxyl radical self-reaction

  • M. T. C. Martins-Costa
  • J. M. Anglada
  • M. F. Ruiz-LópezEmail author
Original Research


Hydrogen polyoxides are important species in atmospheric chemistry, advanced oxidation processes for wastewater treatment, and biological processes, among other fields. However, the electronic structure and chemical properties of the largest synthesized members of this chemical family remain poorly understood. In the present work, we have carried out a detailed theoretical study of hydrogen tetroxide (HO4H), which is a reaction intermediate of the hydroperoxyl radical (HO2) self-reaction. We have considered the molecule in gas phase, in microhydrated environments, in bulk water solution, and at the air–water interface. Very high level ab initio calculations have been carried out to describe the isolated molecule and the water complexes. Combined QM/MM molecular dynamics simulations have been performed to describe the system in liquid water and at the water surface. We show that the interactions with water strongly stabilize the tetraoxide adduct with respect to the (HO2)2 dimer. The chemical process leading to hydrogen tetroxide from two separated hydroperoxyl radicals is predicted to be an exothermic and exergonic reaction at 298 K in all the studied media, with the reaction free energy being slightly smaller (in absolute value) in the condensed phase with respect to the gas phase. An estimation of the pKa of hydrogen tetroxide has been reported (7.3), which suggests that this species is less acidic than previously thought.


Hydrogen polyoxides Hydrogen tetroxide Hydroperoxyl radical Atmospheric chemistry Air–water interface Hydrogen-bonded complexes 



JMA thanks the Spanish Secretaria de Estado de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación (CTQ2014-59768-P), and the Generalitat de Catalunya (Grant 2014SGR139) for financial support and the Consorci de Serveis Universitaris de Catalunya (CSUC) for providing computational resources. MTCMC and MFRL acknowledge the French CINES for providing computing time (Project Code lct2550).

Supplementary material

11224_2015_717_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (295 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 295 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. T. C. Martins-Costa
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. M. Anglada
    • 3
  • M. F. Ruiz-López
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.SRSMC, UMR 7565University of LorraineVandoeuvre-lès-NancyFrance
  2. 2.SRSMC, UMR 7565CNRSVandoeuvre-lès-NancyFrance
  3. 3.Departament de Química Biològica i Modelització MolecularIQAC – CSICBarcelonaSpain

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