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Open Access Paper

Calculation of the visible-UV absorption spectra of hydrogen sulfide, bisulfide, polysulfides, and As and Sb sulfides, in aqueous solution

JA Tossell

Author Affiliations

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

Geochemical Transactions 2003, 4:28  doi:10.1186/1467-4866-4-28

Published: 11 November 2003


Recently we showed that visible-UV spectra in aqueous solution can be accurately calculated for arsenic (III) bisulfides, such as As(SH)3, As(SH)2S- and their oligomers. The calculated lowest energy transitions for these species were diagnostic of their protonation and oligomerization state. We here extend these studies to As and Sb oxidation state III and v sulfides and to polysulfides Sn2-, n = 2–6, the bisulfide anion, SH-, hydrogen sulfide, H2S and the sulfanes, SnH2, n = 2–5. Many of these calculations are more difficult than those performed for the As(iii) bisulfides, since the As and Sb(v) species are more acidic and therefore exist as highly charged anions in neutral and basic solutions. In general, small and/or highly charged anions are more difficult to describe computationally than larger, monovalent anions or neutral molecules. We have used both Hartree-Fock based (CI Singles and Time-Dependent HF) and density functional based (TD B3LYP) techniques for the calculations of absorption energy and intensity and have used both explicit water molecules and a polarizable continuum to describe the effects of hydration. We correctly reproduce the general trends observed experimentally, with absorption energies increasing from polysulfides to As, Sb sulfides to SH- to H2S. As and Sb(v) species, both monomers and dimers, also absorb at characteristically higher energies than do the analogous As and Sb(III)species. There is also a small reduction in absorption energy from monomeric to dimeric species, for both As and Sb III and v. The polysufides, on the other hand, show no simple systematic changes in UV spectra with chain length, n, or with protonation state. Our results indicate that for the As and Sb sulfides, the oxidation state, degree of protonation and degree of oligomerization can all be determined from the visible-UV absorption spectrum. We have also calculated the aqueous phase energetics for the reaction of S8 with SH- to produce the polysulfides, SnH-, n = 2–6. Our results are in excellent agreement with available experimental data, and support the existence of a S6 species.