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  1. Ligand selectivity to specific lanthanide (Ln) ions is key to the separation of rare earth elements from each other. Ligand selectivity can be quantified with relative stability constants (measured experimentally) or relative binding energies (calculated computationally). The relative stability constants of EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) with La 3+ , Eu 3+ , Gd 3+ , and Lu 3+ were predicted from relative binding energies, which were quantified using electronic structure calculations with relativistic effects and based on the molecular structures of Ln–EDTA complexes in solution from density functional theory molecular dynamics simulations. The protonation state of an EDTA amine group was varied to study pH ∼7 and ∼11 conditions. Further, simulations at 25 °C and 90 °C were performed to elucidate how structures of Ln–EDTA complexes varying with temperature are related to complex stabilities at different pH conditions. Relative stability trends are predicted from computation for varying Ln 3+ ions (La, Eu, Gd, Lu) with a single ligand (EDTA at pH ∼11), as well as for a single Ln 3+ ion (La) with varying ligands (EDTA at pH ∼7 and ∼11). Changing the protonation state of an EDTA amine site significantly changes the solution structure of the Ln–EDTA complex resulting inmore »a reduction of the complex stability. Increased Ln–ligand complex stability is correlated to reduced structural variations in solution upon an increase in temperature.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 4, 2023