Scientific article
Open access

Dissecting the Molecular Origin of g -Tensor Heterogeneity and Strain in Nitroxide Radicals in Water: Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Experiment versus Theory

Published inThe journal of physical chemistry. A, vol. 127, no. 31, p. 6447-6466
Publication date2023-07-31
First online date2023-07-31

Nitroxides are common EPR sensors of microenvironmental properties such as polarity, numbers of H-bonds, pH, and so forth. Their solvation in an aqueous environment is facilitated by their high propensity to form H-bonds with the surrounding water molecules. Their g- and A-tensor elements are key parameters to extracting the properties of their microenvironment. In particular, the gxx value of nitroxides is rich in information. It is known to be characterized by discrete values representing nitroxide populations previously assigned to have different H-bonds with the surrounding waters. Additionally, there is a large g-strain, that is, a broadening of g-values associated with it, which is generally correlated with environmental and structural micro-heterogeneities. The g-strain is responsible for the frequency dependence of the apparent line width of the EPR spectra, which becomes evident at high field/frequency. Here, we address the molecular origin of the gxx heterogeneity and of the g-strain of a nitroxide moiety (HMI: 2,2,3,4,5,5-hexamethylimidazolidin-1-oxyl, C9H19N2O) in water. To treat the solvation effect on the g-strain, we combined a multi-frequency experimental approach with ab initio molecular dynamics simulations for structural sampling and quantum chemical EPR property calculations at the highest realistically affordable level, including an explicitly micro-solvated HMI ensemble and the embedded cluster reference interaction site model. We could clearly identify the distinct populations of the H-bonded nitroxides responsible for the gxx heterogeneity experimentally observed, and we dissected the role of the solvation shell, H-bond formation, and structural deformation of the nitroxide in the creation of the g-strain associated with each nitroxide subensemble. Two contributions to the g-strain were identified in this study. The first contribution depends on the number of hydrogen bonds formed between the nitroxide and the solvent because this has a large and well-understood effect on the gxx-shift. This contribution can only be resolved at high resonance frequencies, where it leads to distinct peaks in the gxx region. The second contribution arises from configurational fluctuations of the nitroxide that necessarily lead to g-shift heterogeneity. These contributions cannot be resolved experimentally as distinct resonances but add to the line broadening. They can be quantitatively analyzed by studying the apparent line width as a function of microwave frequency. Interestingly, both theory and experiment confirm that this contribution is independent of the number of H-bonds. Perhaps even more surprisingly, the theoretical analysis suggests that the configurational fluctuation broadening is not induced by the solvent but is inherently present even in the gas phase. Moreover, the calculations predict that this broadening decreases upon solvation of the nitroxide.

  • Max-Planck-Gesellschaft -
  • Bundesministerium f?r Bildung und Forschung - [03SF0565B]
  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft - [EXC-2033-390677874]
Citation (ISO format)
TRAN, Thi Thanh Van et al. Dissecting the Molecular Origin of <i>g</i> -Tensor Heterogeneity and Strain in Nitroxide Radicals in Water: Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Experiment versus Theory. In: The journal of physical chemistry. A, 2023, vol. 127, n° 31, p. 6447–6466. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpca.3c02879
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1089-5639

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