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Tunneling and Zero-Point Energy Effects in Multidimensional Hydrogen Transfer Reactions: From Gas Phase to Adsorption on Metal Surfaces


Litman,  Yair
NOMAD, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;


Rossi,  Mariana
NOMAD, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

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Litman, Y., & Rossi, M. (2020). Tunneling and Zero-Point Energy Effects in Multidimensional Hydrogen Transfer Reactions: From Gas Phase to Adsorption on Metal Surfaces. PhD Thesis, Freie Universität, Berlin.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-CFDF-7
Hydrogen transfer reactions play a significant role in many technological applications and fundamental processes in nature. Despite appearing to be simple reactions, they constitute complex processes where nuclear quantum effects (NQE) such as zero-point energy and nuclear tunneling play a decisive role even at ambient temperature. Moreover, the anharmonic coupling between different degrees of freedom that take place in realistic systems leads to hydrogen dynamics that, in many cases, are hard to interpret and understand. Systematic and quantitative ab initio studies of hydrogen dynamics were performed in systems ranging from gas phase molecules to adsorbates on metallic surfaces using state-of-the-art methodologies based on the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics in combination with the density functional approximation. In order to achieve this task, the construction of a general infrastructure that made the required ring polymer instanton simulations feasible was created, and a new approximation which considerably reduces the computational cost of including NQE on weakly bound systems was proposed and tested in the study of water dissociation at Pt(221) surface. Practical guidelines and limitations were also discussed to help the adoption of such methodologies by the community. The system of choice for most of the studies presented in this thesis was the porphycene molecule, a paradigmatic example of a molecular switch. The are a large number of experimental results in well-controlled environments available in the literature which have demonstrated the importance of NQE and multidimensional coupling for this molecule. Therefore, the porphycene molecule provides the unique possibility to theoretically address these effects and compare the theoretical predictions with experimental results in different environments. A portion of this thesis focuses on the study of porphycene molecule in the gas phase. For this purpose, the intramolecular double hydrogen transfer (DHT) rates and vibrational spectrum were calculated. The theoretical results showed a remarkable agreement with the experiments, and enabled the explanation of the unusual infrared spectra, the elucidation of the dominant DHT mechanism, and the understanding of their temperature dependence. In all the cases, the coupling between low- and high-frequency modes proved to be essential to get qualitatively correct trends. Another portion of this thesis examines molecules adsorbed on surfaces. Studies of porphycene molecules adsorbed on (111) and (110) metal surfaces showed that the stronger the surface-molecule interaction is, the more the molecule buckles upon adsorption, leading to an overall decrease of the DHT rates. The simulations identified different temperature regimes of the DHT mechanism, which was not possible by experimental measurements, and evidenced the importance of surface fluctuations on the DHT rates. In conclusion, this thesis provides a stepping stone towards the understanding of the impact of NQE, anharmonic effects, and multidimensional mode coupling on hydrogen dynamics, and also describes novel computational tools to approach their study by using first-principle calculations.