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Pure Appl. Chem., 2009, Vol. 81, No. 4, pp. 697-707

Understanding solvation

Omar A. El Seoud

Institute of Chemistry, University of São Paulo, C.P. 26077, 05513-970, São Paulo, S. P., Brazil

Abstract: The effects of solvents on different chemical phenomena, including reactivity, spectroscopic data, and swelling of biopolymers can be rationalized by use of solvatochromic probes, substances whose UV-vis spectra, absorption, or emission are sensitive to the properties of the medium. Thermo-solvatochromism refers to the effect of temperature on solvatochromism. The study of both phenomena sheds light on the relative importance of the factors that contribute to solvation, namely, properties of the probe, those of the solvent (acidity, basicity, dipolarity/polarizability, and lipophilicity), and the temperature. Solvation in binary solvent mixtures is complex because of "preferential solvation" of the probe by one component of the mixture. A recently introduced solvent exchange model is based on the presence in the binary solvent mixture of the organic component (molecular solvent or ionic liquid), S, water, W, and a 1:1 hydrogen-bonded species (S-W). Solvation by the latter is more efficient than by its precursor solvents, due to probe-solvent hydrogen-bonding and hydrophobic interactions; dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO)-W is an exception. Solvatochromic data are employed in order to explain apparently disconnected phenomena, namely, medium effect on the pH-independent hydrolysis of esters, 1H NMR data of water-ionic liquid (IL) mixtures, and the swelling of cellulose.