New computer calculations have revealed that a century-long assumption in chemistry is wrong.
At the crux of the matter is the movement of the hydroxide ion, OH–, in water. Hydroxide ions and protons, H+, are important players in the acid-base chemistry vital to many important chemical processes, including photosynthesis, the pumping of protons across biological membranes, and regulation of acidity in the body.
Protons' movement through water is well understood, and scientists had long believed that the motion of hydroxide ions could be inferred from it. Researchers know that a water molecule containing an extra proton forms weak bonds with three surrounding water molecules. As this positively charged ion–which is called hydronium, or H3O+–moves through water, those bonds break and shift. They temporarily form new structures until the ion is once again bonded weakly to three water molecules in