Relationships between Gas-Phase Ionization Energies and Solution-Phase Oxidation Potentials: Applications to the Electrocatalytic Production of Hydrogen from Weak Acids
Density Functional Theory
AdvisorLichtenberger, Dennis L.
Committee ChairLichtenberger, Dennis L.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe transfer of electrons to and from a molecule is one of the more fundamental and important chemical processes. One such important example is the reduction-oxidation (redox) cycles in catalysts and enzymes. In the hydrogenase enzymes, adding and removing electrons is one of the key processes for generating H₂ from water molecules. Finding a direct free energy relation between the vertical ionization energies (IE(V)) measured spectroscopically by gas-phase photoelectron spectroscopy and the oxidation potentials (E(1/2)) measured thermodynamically in solution by cyclic voltammetry (CV) for molecules is an important aspect for developing effective catalysts. In this study, a series of organometallic compounds such as metallocenes were used for investigating the free energy relationships and catalysts inspired by the active sites of [FeFe]-hydrogenases enzymes were evaluated for their ability to produce H₂ from electrocatalytic reduction of weak acids. The first part of the dissertation explores metallocenes of the form (η⁵-C₅H₅)₂M (M= Fe, Ru, Os, Co, Ni) as the model for developing the free energy relation between gas phase ionization energies (IE(V)) and solution oxidation potentials (E(1/2)). It was found that computing the electronic properties of Cp₂Fe, Cp₂Ru, and Cp₂Os using VWN-Stoll and OPBE density functional theory (DFT) functional was successful with root mean square deviation (RMSD) of 0.02 eV between the experimental and calculated ionization energies. However, calculated ionization energies of Cp₂Co and Cp₂Ni were less successful with RMSD of 0.3 eV between the experimental and calculated ionization energies. Introduction of the B3LYP or M06 hybrid DFT functionals yielded much improved results (0.1 eV) over the previous combinations of DFT functional for Cp2Co and Cp2Ni. The energy relation between the two experimental measurements was established and further computational studies revealed that the solvation energy was the largest energy contribution between IE(V) and E(1/2) in the five studied metallocenes. The RMSD of the calculated oxidation potentials, after adjusting for the error in gas-phase ionization energies, was 0.09 V. The second part of the dissertation explores a series of catalysts inspired by the active sites of [FeFe]-hydrogenase enzymes; μ-(2,3-pyrazinedithiolato)diironhexacarbonyl (PzDT-cat), Fe₂(μ-X₂C₅H₈O)(CO)₆ (where X = S, Se, Te), and Fe₂(μ-1,3-SC₃H₆X)(CO)₆ (where X = Se and Te) for their ability to produce H₂ from weak acids utilizing the computational techniques and knowledge gained from the metallocene study. Even though the overall electronic perturbation from μ-(1,2-benzenedithiolato)diironhexacarbonyl (BDT-cat) to μ-(2,3-pyridinedithiolato)diironhexacarbonyl (PyDT-cat) to PzDT-cat is found to be small, the reduction potential of PzDT-cat was found to be 0.15 V less negative than that of BDT-cat resulting in less energy required for initiating electrocatalytic H₂ production over the BDT-cat and PyDT-cat. Lower reorganization energy has been achieved by substitutions of larger chalcogens at the Fe₂S₂ core. However, the electrocatalytic production of H₂ from acetic acid in acetonitrile was found to be diminished upon going from analogous S to Se to Te species. This is ascribed to the increase in the Fe–Fe bond distance with a corresponding increase in the size of the chalcogen atoms from S to Se to Te, disfavoring the formation of a carbonyl-bridged structure in the anion which is thought to be critical to the mechanism of H₂ production.