Investigation of hydrogen bonded molecular solids by diffraction, spectroscopy, and computational chemistry

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Bruce S. Hudson


Molecular solids, Hydrogen bonding, Inelastic neutron scattering

Subject Categories



The nature of hydrogen-bonding interactions in the solid state is examined through the investigation of molecular crystals by incoherent inelastic neutron scattering (INS) spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, X-ray and neutron diffraction, and computational chemistry. The molecular solids studied range from small organic molecules to larger inorganic acid salts. Hydrogen bonding is the primary mode of interaction in the solid state for each of the systems studied. INS spectra were collected at 25 K for each molecular solid and the motions of the hydrogen atoms assigned. Raman spectra were collected at 78 and 298 K to aid in the molecular mode assignments of the INS spectra and to examine possible phase changes as a function of temperature. Neutron diffraction was employed, when possible, to accurately locate the hydrogen atom positions, and X-ray diffraction was performed to obtain accurate unit cell dimensions and to obtain initial characterizations of the samples. The diffraction structures served as the basis for solid-state density functional theory (DFT) calculations. DFT simulations were used to aid in the vibrational normal mode assignments, to investigate possible solid-phase transitions, and as a test of the limits of basis sets and the available DFT theory. Of the six molecular solids studied, several important observations were made: (1) the determination of a structural phase transition in L-alanine alaninium nitrate by both spectroscopic and theoretical methods, (2) the structure of picolinic acid was elucidated at 25 K and room-temperature by the combination of INS and theory, (3) glycine lithium sulfate was found to be a useful test of DFT to accurately optimize the structure and calculate the normal modes of a complex 3D network of hydrogen-bonding interactions, (4) nicotinic acid was found to be a useful test of one dimensional hydrogen-bonding interactions with π-stacking interactions dominating the orthogonal directions, and (5) parabanic acid served as a test of the limits of the basis sets in DFT and the importance of the molecular environment in DFT simulations even with very accurate neutron and X-ray diffraction data as the starting point.


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