Enthalpy-entropy compensation: A phantom or something useful?
Journal article, 2007
In various chemical systems enthalpy-entropy compensation (EEC) is a well-known rule of behavior, although the physical roots of it are still not completely understood. It has been frequently questioned whether EEC is a truly physical phenomenon or a coincidence due to trivial mathematical connections between statistical-mechanical parameters or even simpler, a phantom effect resulting from the misinterpretation of experimental data. Here, we review EEC from a new standpoint and conclude that it may be rationalized in terms of hidden but physically real factors implying a Carnot-cycle model in which a micro-phase transition (MPT) plays a crucial role. Examples of such MPTs underlying physically valid EEC should be typically cooperative processes in supramolecular aggregates, like changes of structured water at hydrophobic surfaces, conformational transitions upon ligand-biopolymer binding, and so forth. The MPT notion could help rationalize the occurrence of EEC in connection with hydration and folding of proteins, functioning of molecular motors, and similar phenomena.