Complexing of the Ammonium Ion by Polyethers. Comparative Complexing Thermochemistry of Ammonium, Hydronium and Alkali Ions

Document Type


Journal/Book Title

Journal of Physical Chemistry

Publication Date



American Chemical Society





First Page


Last Page



The binding energies of NH4+ to polyethers, and for comparison, to acetone molecules, were measured by pulsed high-pressure mass spectrometry. The binding energies in the polydentate complexes increase with increasing ligand size and number of available oxygen groups. However, the binding energies are smaller than in complexes with free Me2CO molecules, reflecting the geometrical constraints in the polydentate ligands. The binding energy of NH4+ in various polydentate complexes is similar to that of K+ and smaller than that of H3O+ by 105 ± 12 kJ/mol (25 ± 3 kcal/mol). Based on the H3O+ to crown ether binding energies, these relations can be used to estimate the binding energy of NH4+ and K+ to 15-crown-5 of 248 ± 12 kJ/mol (59 ± 3 kcal/mol) and to 18-crown-6 of 296 ± 12 kJ/mol (71 ± 3 kcal/mol). The order of binding energies of oxygen-containing ligands to H3O+ > Na+ > NH4+ ≈ K+ is reproduced by ab initio calculations on complexes with MeOCH2CH2OMe. The amount of calculated charge transfer to the ligands follows the order of binding energies. The difference between the binding energies of H3O+ and NH4+ to oxygen-containing ligands in the gas-phase complexes is similar to the condensed-phase aqueous heats of solvation of these ions.


Originally published by American Chemical Society in the Journal of Physical Chemistry.

Publisher's PDF can be accessed through the remote link. May require fee or subscription.